Aston Villa 2-0 Norwich City
Aston Villa moved to within eight points of Premier League safety with their third win of the season as Norwich slipped into the bottom three.
Joleon Lescott's headed goal at the end of a dire first half was Villa's first attempt on target.
Gabriel Agbonlahor doubled the lead after the break, stroking home after Declan Rudd misjudged Jordan Veretout's through ball.
Norwich, for whom this was a fifth defeat in a row, are now 18th.
Newcastle's 1-0 home victory over West Brom saw them leapfrog Alex Neil's side, who haven't won since 2 January.
So are Villa staying up?
With 13 matches left to play, the distance between Villa and safety is eight points.
The Premier League's bottom club face an almost impossible task to haul themselves out of the relegation zone, but who knows what could happen with a bit of confidence?
That was in short supply in the first half. Lescott's downward header from Carles Gil's free-kick went in via two deflections - a scruffy goal typical of a poor opening 45 minutes.
After Agbonlahor's second there was much greater fluency though, and few of the nerves you might expect of a side with just two wins from 24 games.
Norwich made three attacking substitutions as the game wore on, but Villa defended soundly and could have added a third had Leandro Bacuna not blazed wildly over.
Norwich lose... again
Two weeks ago in the early kick-off, Norwich saw a 3-1 lead over Liverpool transformed into a 5-4 loss when seeking a much-needed win following defeats by Stoke and Bournemouth.
The Canaries were resoundingly beaten by Tottenham in midweek, and now find themselves in serious trouble despite a positive start to the campaign.
Their defending was their undoing at Villa Park. The shape of the back line and Rudd's decision to come off his line for Agbonlahor's second goal was particularly poor, but nor did they offer much of an attacking threat.
Sebastien Bassong saw a downward header bounce over the bar, Dieumerci Mbokani's tame efforts were easy to deal with, and Steven Naismith was bright without creating too much danger.
Patrick Bamford - who came on for his Norwich debut - was denied by Jores Okore's brilliant saving challenge, but had the Chelsea loanee turned in with just minutes to play it surely would only have been a consolation.
Man of the match - Carles Gil
'Football is strange'
Aston Villa manager Remi Garde: "Football is strange. Today we didn't play as well as in some games that we lost. Our football is improving, not only today but for a while now, but we haven't been getting what we deserve.
"We are still a way away from where we would like to be but we still believe. The way the players fought on the field today means a lot to me.
"Everyone was very committed, and behaving in that way we still have a chance."
Norwich manager Alex Neil: "Goals change games. The first was poor defending from us, and before that we had opportunities to score but didn't take them.
"We didn't defend our box from a set piece, and we gifted the second goal away - it was a basic decision at the back. We huffed and puffed but ultimately didn't do enough to get ourselves back in the game.
"This is a test of character. The rest of the season will show whether we have enough character in the group."
The stats you need to know
- Agbonlahor has now scored in 11 successive Premier League seasons for Villa.
- Remi Garde's side scored their first first-half goal in the Premier League since December versus Southampton, also scored by Lescott.
- Norwich are the only Premier League side yet to keep a clean sheet on the road this season.
- Villa have won two of their three league home games in 2016 so far - they won three of 19 throughout the whole of 2015.
- Norwich have won just one of their last 12 Premier League away games (W1 D2 L9).
Aston Villa host Liverpool in a 16:00 GMT kick-off in the Premier League next Sunday, while Norwich are at home to West Ham next Saturday.
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- Martin Atkinson
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