Dimitar Berbatov was the hero for Fulham as they beat Stoke City 1-0 at Craven Cottage.
The Bulgarian striker netted his ninth goal of the season in west London to push them further away from the faint threat of relegation.
A poor spell of form towards the end of 2012 had seen Martin Jol’s side drift close to the intensifying battle at the bottom of the Premier League, but another victory edges them nearer to confirmed safety as they sit 11th with 32 points.
Berbatov, a brilliant £5million summer signing from Manchester United, went close earlier on as he tried to score from the impressive Sascha Riether’s cross from the right.
And the Cottagers had the ball in the back of the net after 13 minutes, but it didn’t count as Bryan Ruiz had flicked it in with his hand, earning the Costa Rican a prompt booking.
Giorgos Karagounis then tested Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic with a fierce free-kick, but it was to be Fulham’s Bulgarian striker who would break the deadlock.
In first half stoppage time another tempting Riether cross was cleared by Robert Huth but the big German’s header fell straight to Berbatov, who unleashed a nonchalant volley into the top right-hand corner of Begovic’s goal.
Ten minutes after the break Stoke had a brilliant chance to draw themselves level when referee Lee Probert awarded them a penalty for Ashkan Dejagah’s handball.
But Jonathan Walters stepped up and saw his spot-kick well saved by Mark Schwarzer in the Cottagers’ goal.
And the Potters rarely threatened as the match went on with Fuham going closest through Berbatov and Mladen Petric before Probert finally called time on the game.
Tony Pulis’ men remain tenth in the Premier League on 33 points.