Kilmarnock moved three points clear in fourth position thanks to a 2-0 win at St Mirren on Monday night.
Second half goals from Liam Kelly and Craig Bryson did the damage for Killie who have now won four of their last five.
The match at Rugby Park also marked the last time defender Ben Gordon would play for the club. The 19-year old will return to Chelsea after making 18 appearances but he feels he has left the club in a strong position.
“If they carry on like this I don't see why they can't get a European spot," Gordon said.
"Mixu (Paatelainen) has come in and changed everything and if they can carry on and keep their main players then definitely.
"I will keep in touch with a lot of the lads and hope they do well for the rest of the season."
Killie boss Paatelainen admitted the club would continue to monitor Gordon’s progress after he served the club so well.
“Ben has been a very positive signing for us. I think he still has a little bit to go to challenge for Chelsea's first team, but he has been absolutely first class with us. We wish him all the best,” the Finn said.
"We can't go and buy expensive players so getting a young prospect like Ben was great. I put it to Chelsea that it would be good for him to stay here, but there are quite a few clubs who want him down south so they want to see him loaned out in England.
"It would have been nice to have him for the season because he is a smashing lad. But I can understand Chelsea's point of view because they want to bring him closer to London to monitor his progress. Hopefully, we'll see him one day in the Chelsea first team."