Gary Neville believes Manchester United's victory over Stoke at the Britannia Stadium should be seen as "significant" as they bid to retain the Barclays Premier League title.
Carlos Tevez scored seven minutes from time to end 10-man Stoke's hopes of a point and keep United on the shoulders of Liverpool and Chelsea at the top of the table.
Club captain Neville told the BBC: "We are delighted with the win - it is a really important and significant win for us."
He added: "While we were away in Japan our rivals did not pull away, so this result against Stoke is massive. It could be a vital victory in the context of the championship.
"It was hard work as we had to defend a lot of long balls. A lot of teams find it difficult here.
"But we were patient in our football - we do not get desperate - and our forwards are always likely to produce something and that's what happened."
United will have to manage without defender Rio Ferdinand on Monday against Middlesbrough as he will be sidelined for up to 10 days.
Ferdinand pulled up in the warm-up at Stoke with a back spasm and was replaced by Jonny Evans. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes Evans is a fine prospect.
"Jonny is an outstanding player. We are fortunate to have such a talented boy to call on," said the United boss.
"At 20 he shows such maturity. He reads the game well, he uses the ball well and his pace is good. He has all the attributes of a top player."
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