Loic Remy and Jay Bothroyd struck as Queens Park Rangers kick-started their fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League with a 2-1 win at fellow strugglers Southampton on Saturday.
Rangers' preparations for the game had been overshadowed by media reports a recent training trip to Dubai was marked by drinking and a lack of professionalism.
And to add to the tension surrounding a game between two sides in trouble, QPR manager Harry Redknapp received an icy reception on his return to his former club.
But it was Redknapp who was celebrating in front of the visiting supporters after his side - still rooted to the foot of the division - claimed only their third league win of the season.
Remy put Rangers ahead in the 14th minute but Southampton levelled when Gaston Ramirez capitalised on a mistake by QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
Then, with 13 minutes remaining, Bothroyd - who was making his first Premier League appearance of the season - scored the winner from close range.
Both Redknapp and opposite number Mauricio Pochettino were celebrating their birthday, but while Redknapp was left with plenty to cheer, Pochettino could only reflect on a missed chance for Southampton to extend the three-point gap between themselves and the relegation places.
Redknapp has made the side harder to beat since he succeeded Mark Hughes but a return of just four goals in their last 10 Premier League games illustrates why they have failed to turn a series of draws into wins.
The manager's efforts to improve his side's goal threat have been hampered by injuries to Remy and Bobby Zamora, and Zamora was again missing with an ankle injury at St Mary's.
That meant Bothroyd was brought in to lead the line but it was Remy, operating on the right, who provided the visitors' cutting edge and gave Rangers an early lead.
Davoid Hoilett's floated pass allowed Remy to get in behind Southampton left-back Danny Fox and the Frenchman found a way past Artur Boruc with a well-placed right-foot finish.
The mood around the stadium darkened further when Saints captain and playmaker Adam Lallana limped off in the 42nd minute, to be replaced by Jay Rodriguez.
But Rodriguez's introduction proved to be the catalyst for the home side's recovery, with the substitute's long-range shot in first-half added time triggering the mistake that led to the equaliser.
Cesar looked to have Rodriguez's effort covered, but the Brazil international spilled the ball and Ramirez was first to react, expertly chipping over the goalkeeper as he struggled to atone for his error.
Having been gifted a route back into the game, Southampton were never likely to play as badly after the break.
Jose Fonte quickly handed Cesar another scare after the restart with a shot from distance that flashed narrowly wide with the keeper struggling to recover his ground.
And Rodriguez sent another 20-yard effort onto the roof of the net before Cesar's handling again let him down, this time from a low effort by Ramirez.
By now QPR's attacks were sporadic, although it took an excellent block from Nathaniel Clyne to deny Hoilett after the winger had been set up by Remy.
Both sides were guilty of a lack of quality in their efforts to find a winner.
But it was Rangers who found a way through 13 minutes from time when Park Ji-sung broke through a challenge from Maya Yoshida and crossed low for Bothroyd to turn home.