Dwight Gayle's injury-time winner moved Crystal Palace out of the Premier League bottom three as Aston Villa slumped to a fourth straight loss.
Substitute Gayle, who was introduced after 72 minutes, curled beyond Villa keeper Brad Guzan into the top corner.
Ex-Villa midfielder Barry Bannan had a sweeping left-foot shot pushed onto the post by the American.
Lambert vows not to give up on Villa
Palace winger Jason Puncheon's low effort was also saved by Guzan as Villa struggled to find an attacking spark.
The match looked destined to be a goalless draw until striker Gayle,
a £6m summer signing
from League One side Peterborough United, produced a moment of brilliance to continue Palace's revival under recently installed boss Tony Pulis.
the ex-Stoke manager was appointed
as Ian Holloway's successor, the Eagles have won three of six Premier League matches. Gayle's strike moved them above London rivals West Ham and Fulham on goal difference.
But the pressure continues to mount on Villa boss Paul Lambert, whose walk towards the Villa Park tunnel at the final whistle was met by a chorus of boos from frustrated home fans.
Paul WalkerMatch of the Day commentator
"Huge win for Palace but there were plenty of boos at the final whistle aimed at Aston Villa and Paul Lambert. Dwight Gayle came up with goods right at the end with a wonderful goal. One moment of quality was enough to win the match - but where does that leave Lambert now? Villa are sliding closer to danger, while Palace gave themselves a major shot in the arm in avoiding relegation."
Lambert's side are 13th in the table after successive defeats by Fulham, Manchester United, Stoke and now Palace.
Worryingly, Villa are the lowest home goalscorers in the English top-flight, mustering just six goals in eight games. They have not scored a first-half Premier League goal at Villa Park this season.
Their best chance fell to £7m summer signing Libor Kozak but his header was hacked off the line in first-half stoppage time.
The Czech striker, who had scored twice in his previous three games, saw Eagles defender Adrian Mariappa clear from under his own crossbar, with Villa skipper Gabby Agbonlahor ready to pounce.
It was the best chance of a dire first half where Villa controlled possession and patiently probed for an opening. But, without injured Belgium striker Christian Benteke, they were unable to unpick a sturdy Palace side looking to break on the counter attack.
However, the match livened up after the interval as play became stretched.
Shots (on target)
Palace started the second half confidently, utilising the pace and trickery of Yannick Bolasie on the right flank.
All of their attacking play went through the DR Congo international, who created the chance which forced Villa goalkeeper Guzan into the first serious save of the match after 48 minutes.
He shrugged off the challenge of Villa left-back Antonio Luna, before cleverly pulling back to Puncheon who poked goalwards, after initially seeming to clumsily lose the ball under his feet.
The game began to switch quickly from end to end, with Agbonlahor's surging run through the Palace defence ending in an angled shot that lacked power; and Puncheon again shooting straight at Guzan after being picked out by Bolasie's dangerous cutback.
Eagles boss Pulis replaced Cameron Jerome with Gayle in an attacking move - and the substitution paid dividends.
The 23-year-old latched onto a through ball and, as he ran at last Villa defender Fabian Delph, curled in a delightful winner to spark pandemonium in the away end.
"It's tough to take. There was a lot of endeavour, a lot of hard work, but not much creativity and we were hit with a classic counter-attack.
"We had most of the game - Crystal Palace might have had the clear-cut chances, and the goal from their point of view was a terrific strike.
"The home form isn't good enough and lack of goals is contributing to not winning games. We have to stand up and be counted and try to go on that front foot. We have to create more when we have most of the ball."
Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis:
"It was a fantastic strike by Dwight. He can do that and there was no one more pleased than myself to see it go in.
"I'm a manager that picks a team and, if you're in that team, it's more difficult to get out of the team, that's the way I've always managed.
"Sometimes for the people who haven't started like Dwight, it's difficult to get that run of games, especially if the team does all right. Apart from the Newcastle game, the team has done exceptionally well."
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