Gareth Barry hailed the goal that could be the making of Luke Moore and kept alive Aston Villa's hopes of European football.
Moore, aged 19, scored with a shot on the turn in the 79th minute to secure a 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough on Saturday and record his first goal for Villa.
Martin Laursen had given Villa the lead and, after a miserable run of form, the
possibility of European football is back on the agenda.
It was Moore's 26th Premiership match for Villa and his prevailing emotion was one of "relief rather than excitement". However, much of the delight seemed to come from his team-mates.
"I am sure that will take the burden off his shoulders," Barry said. "Any striker that hasn't scored will feel that. Luke has had 20 or 30 appearances now and that will have been playing on his mind. He will get a lot of confidence from that goal and will be a better player for it.
"It is always difficult getting your first goal. It was not a 25-yarder but it will feel like that for Luke."
Villa had lost their previous two home matches by a 3-1 scoreline and played so poorly in the first half that another defeat seemed likely.
However, the improvement after half-time was dramatic and it helped to ease the tension at Villa Park after supporters protested against Doug Ellis, the Villa chairman, whose monetary policy has aroused frustration in some quarters.
"We wanted to put things
right and we needed to," Barry said. "The fans were going to be expecting something after the previous week [against Everton]. We knew in the second half we were going to have to grind it out, get together and the sort of goal that came up in the end was what we were hoping for. "We knew they were always going to be a threat with [Jimmy Floyd]
Hasselbaink, but the two centrehalves did well and snuffed them out. The breakthrough [Laursen's goal] was a bit lucky but was what we needed.
"We changed the formation [to 4-5-1] and that helped defensively and in the second half we created a few chances and it could have been more than 2-0 in the end. Overall it was a solid first half and, in the second 45 minutes, we deserved to win the game."
Gareth Southgate, the Middlesbrough defender who left Villa in 2001, praised the youth policy of his former club and expressed delight that so many players have come through the ranks.
"When I look at the likes of Jlloyd Samuel and Gareth Barry, who were youngsters
when I was at Villa, it makes me pleased. Luke Moore was a Villa schoolboy when I was there and look at how he has developed. That has been Villa's strength and it is encouraging to see a club develop so many of its own players.
"But I have been gone from Villa for four years and I am more concerned with making sure Middlesbrough improve. "There are mitigating circumstances [for the poor performance against Villa]. We've been missing several important first-choice players but I still think we've got enough to do better."