Nottingham Forest denied Aston Villa the chance to go third with a 2-0 win that ends their opponents' six-match unbeaten run and continues their own impressive home form.
Ola Aina and Orel Mangala scored in either half at the City Ground, where Forest remain unbeaten this season, lifting them from 16th to 12th in the table.
How the match unfolded
The opening goal came in the fifth minute, when Harry Toffolo found Aina on the edge of the box and he side-footed a low shot into the bottom corner for his first Forest goal.
It was Forest’s fourth goal in the first five minutes of matches this season, more than any other Premier League team.
Villa pressed for an equaliser and Nicolo Zaniolo’s effort was pushed behind by goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos, making his debut in place of Matt Turner.
Forest were taking advantage of Villa's high line in the first half, and Unai Emery made a half-time change, bringing on Leon Bailey, but it was Forest who started the second half just as quickly they did the first.
Emiliano Martinez, who claimed the Yashin Trophy at the Ballon d'Or ceremony to recognise the world's best goalkeeper earlier this week, failed to deal with a long shot from Mangala on 47 minutes, parrying the ball up into the air before it bounced into his own net.
Despite Villa's best attempts to halve the deficit, Forest's defence stood firm, with Ollie Watkins heading their best chance wide as they failed to make their 73 per cent possession count.
A first Premier League win since September means Forest have 13 points, already eight clear of the relegation zone. Villa stay fifth, with 22 points.
Referee: Jarred Gillett. Assistants: Darren Cann, Derek Eaton. Fourth official: Paul Tierney. VAR: Stuart Attwell. Assistant VAR: Lee Betts.