Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill hailed his side's single-goal success over Stoke as their "best win of the season" as they sustained their push for a Champions League spot.
Substitute John Carew's second-half header - his fifth goal of the season - was enough to earn a fourth successive win for Villa. It came at the end of a demanding week which had seen them win at Manchester United and Sunderland while Stoke had an eight-day break from action.
O'Neill said: "My own view is it may well be our best win of the season so far. We had to really dig deep. There were passages in the first half where we played really well but Stoke were dangerous all the time."
He added: "We got the goal and there were a lot of last-ditch tackles with players prepared to put their bodies on the line.
"We got over the line and it was a great win for us after going to Old Trafford last Saturday evening and then away to Sunderland in midweek.
"We've gone with the same team for the last three games and I was concerned how much energy we might have left towards the end of the game particularly with Stoke not having played in midweek."
Stoke boss Tony Pulis was upset at striker Mamady Sidibe having a first-half `goal' disallowed following an aerial challenge with Stephen Warnock.
But he felt his side had enough chances overall to have earned a share of the spoils against Villa.
He said: "I think the disallowed goal from Sidibe is an injustice. It is a very poor decision.
"It is not the first time that has happened to us. The referee thought he climbed all over Warnock but I disagree. Warnock threw his hands out to make it look as if he had been pushed. It was a poor decision but we have to take it on the chin."
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