Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed the impact made by Wilfried Zaha after the loan signing inspired Cardiff's fightback to claim a 2-1 win over Norwich.
The Bluebirds had trailed when Robert Snodgrass gave the visitors the lead in just the fifth minute at Cardiff City Stadium.
But substitute Zaha teed up Craig Bellamy for the equaliser just after the break, with Kenwyne Jones firing home the winner on his debut just over a minute later.
It ensured Solskjaer secured a first Premier League win since taking charge of the Welsh club which, while not moving them out of the drop zone, got them off the bottom of the table at Fulham's expense.
And the performance of Zaha, whose introduction before half-time suddenly enlivened a Cardiff side desperately lacking a spark, will give Bluebirds fans real hope of surviving the drop.
Zaha joined from Manchester United until the end of the season on Friday, and Solskjaer opted to name him on the bench.
But with the Bluebirds struggling the Norwegian introduced Zaha after just 38 minutes in place of Peter Whittingham.
"Sometimes you just have to make decisions and do what you think is right," said Cardiff boss Solskjaer.
"I felt it was right to bring Wilf on, it lifted the crowd and the players. We needed a lift. It could have been anyone I took off, but I didn't have too many doubts.
"It maybe frightened the Norwich defenders because he is such a great and exciting talent.
"Going forward, he is one of the best I've seen. Defensively, I've got a few hours teaching ahead of me. But he's a young lad and you want him to give us what he can do.
"That's what he can do - lift us like he did today. It was a great debut."
Solskjaer also praised Jones as the former Stoke striker grabbed his first Premier League goal since December 2012.
He said: "He's a big target man, he gives us something different and it took us half an hour to realise what we can use him for.
"He gave us a foothold up top, like Andy Carroll for West Ham. We played too much nice football in the beginning. Sometimes direct football is better."
The transfer window may have closed but Solskjaer could yet add another player to his squad as the Norwegian hopes to bring in Spanish defender Juan Cala, who is a free agent after having his contract with Sevilla terminated.
This was Cardiff's first win in eight league games, and Norwich have now won just one of nine as they remain firmly in the relegation battle having wasted countless chances in a game they fully deserved something from.
Their failure to claim even a point was down to a mixture of poor finishing, bad luck and the endeavours of Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall who, as has often been the case this season, made a string of outstanding saves.
And Chris Hughton could not believe his side had slipped to defeat.
"I am wondering how we got nothing out of the game," he said.
"We conceded two very poor goals in a game where I felt we were comfortable enough in the first half as the away side, and if our final pass had been better we might have been able to get another goal.
"At 1-0 we were comfortable but to give away the two goals we did, at the time we did, changes the atmosphere in the stadium.
"The crowd were fairly quiet in that first half and that was down to the effect we had on the game.
"For a side that had taken a knock like that we responded very well, but their goalkeeper, as he did at Carrow Road, made some super saves.
"We also hit the woodwork a couple of times and had a couple of goals disallowed. So I cannot fault the desire and effort of the players to get the goals and we missed some chances, but how we did not win that game I do not know."