Aston Villa climbed level with second-placed Liverpool on 47 points after £3.5 million signing Emile Heskey hit a 20th-minute winner on his debut at Fratton Park.
But it was another night of misery for Pompey boss Tony Adams who saw his own new signing Hayden Mullins miss two good chances and then had Nadir Belhadj sent off for a silly second yellow card 20 minutes from the end.
Pompey proceeded to put up a great fight after going a man down but had no cutting edge to break through a Villa side that soaked up pressure after Gabriel Agbonlahor played in Heskey for the winner.
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