Slaven Bilic hailed Aaron Cresswell after West Ham’s 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace and said the player’s return paved the way for a change of formation.
Hammers boss Bilic switched to three at the back at Selhurst Park, where Cresswell came in on the left flank for his first appearance of the season.
Cresswell, back after a knee injury, was controversially sent off 15 minutes from the end after picking up two yellow cards in the space of 51 seconds.
But he had a major influence on the game, performing excellently and providing the cross for Manuel Lanzini’s first-half winner.
The change of system was instrumental in a much-improved display from Bilic’s side, whose first league win in almost two months took them out of the relegation zone.
Bilic told BT Sport: “Straight after the Middlesbrough game we started preparations for Crystal Palace. And not only for Palace, we tried to find the best system that suits all the players.
“We came to this system, which I really like but it’s impossible to play it without players like Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku.
“Now that Aaron is back we made a little gamble with him. We didn’t expect him to be totally match fit but he had a great game and gave us that opportunity to change the system.”
Cresswell was booked for diving in the area despite appearing to be fouled by Yohan Cabaye.
And less than a minute later, he was very harshly shown another yellow card after tangling with Wilfried Zaha.
“For me it was a penalty on Cresswell and then the second yellow card is very harsh – never a second yellow card,” Bilic said.
The Croatian added: “The whole team was magnificent. We scored the goal and that gave us confidence, and we could have scored a second goal.”
Palace, however, might have taken a point had Christian Benteke not woefully missed a penalty. The striker also headed against the post moments later.
“I was disappointed with a lot of aspects of the game,” admitted Eagles boss Alan Pardew.
“We didn’t start well and they got a deserved lead. We had to make changes at half-time because weren’t playing with the fluidity we have done.
“We were better in the second half and should have at least got a draw.”