London - Tim Sherwood returned to haunt former club Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday as Aston Villa improved their chances of avoiding relegation from the Premier League with a 1-0 away victory.
Christian Benteke decided the game, nodding in an inviting right-wing cross from Leandro Bacuna in the 35th minute to register his eighth goal in six games.
On his return to White Hart Lane following his sacking by Spurs at the end of last season, Sherwood saw his Villa side open up a six-point cushion over the relegation zone.
But victory came at a price, with centre-back Ciaran Clark and striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, who hit the post, forced off by injury and Carlos Sanchez sent off in stoppage time after receiving two yellow cards.
"It's a fantastic result," said Sherwood. "We carried on from the good performance in the 3-3 draw against QPR. We thought we could have a good go, and we did. I thought we deserved to win."
Spurs' defeat saw them lose ground in the battle for European places, with Southampton moving two points above them - and leapfrogging Liverpool - by winning 2-0 at home to Hull City.
James Ward-Prowse broke the deadlock with a 56th-minute penalty after former Hull striker Shane Long had been tripped by Alex Bruce. Graziano Pelle then ended a 14-league-game scoring drought with a late strike.
Hull remain in trouble, two points above the bottom three in 17th place, and Sunderland are just a point better off following a humbling 4-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace.
Democratic Republic of Congo winger Yannick Bolasie became the first Palace player to score a Premier League hat-trick and also set up a goal for Glenn Murray as Alan Pardew's side claimed a fourth successive win.
Connor Wickham scored a late consolation for Sunderland, who were brought down to earth with a bump after beating derby rivals Newcastle United 1-0 on their previous outing.
Bottom club Leicester City gave their hopes of avoiding relegation a huge boost by twice coming from behind to win 3-2 at West Bromwich Albion, which lifted Nigel Pearson's side to within three points of safety.
David Nugent and Robert Huth successively cancelled out efforts by Darren Fletcher and Craig Gardner before Jamie Vardy charged to the edge of the West Brom box and drilled home an injury-minute winner for the Foxes.
"We deserved it today because we never stopped believing," said Leicester manager Pearson.
"The time of the second equaliser (in the 80th minute) gave us a chance to win it, and it was a great winner."
Elsewhere, Jonjo Shelvey's penalty earned Swansea City a 1-1 home draw with Everton, while Marko Arnautovic rescued a 1-1 draw for Stoke City at West Ham United, who had gone in front through a fine 25-yard free-kick from Aaron Cresswell.
The day's late game sees second-place Arsenal visit second-bottom Burnley, where victory for the visitors would provisionally lift Arsene Wenger's side to within four points of leaders Chelsea.
Chelsea visit third-bottom Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, while third-place Manchester United tackle fourth-place Manchester City in the game of the weekend at Old Trafford.