Defender Chris Baird scored a rare goal for the Cottagers who were in danger of dropping points at home as Villa looked the more likely of the sides late in the match.
The Northern Ireland international glanced home John-Arne Riise’s corner at the near post to beat Villa’s Brad Guzan and allow Martin Jol’s men to shift safely into the top half of the table with their fourth triumph of the campaign.
For Paul Lambert and Villa, it was another loss on the road which kept them just a point out of the relegation zone in 16th position with Christian Benteke somehow managing to miss a great chance for an equaliser from six yards out.
Craven Cottage, Fulham – 25,693
Yellow cards: FUL - John-Arne Riise 70’
AV - Karim El Ahmadi 50’, Eric Lichaj 77’