Smalling was back in action after an injury lay-off.
He said, “I felt very good, I missed that feeling of playing the games. When you are in the treatment table or you train all week, you want to play. It was nice to be able to help the team and we need to kick off.
"We didn't make the game easy for ourselves. We defended well, we could have finished the game early, but three points it's the most important.
“We know each game we go into now, we can't afford to drop points, we've dropped too many points already this season and I think of all the leagues in the world, this is probably the closest. We're so close to second or third, but you could be sixth or seventh. The pressure is on and this is where the team needs to step up.
“Today, we stepped up and made sure, no matter what, the victory was the target."