Darren Bent scored his first goal since February as Paul Lambert secured his first win as Aston Villa manager.
England international Bent, 28, rounded off the scoring as Villa beat Tranmere in the League Cup after meeting Brett Holman's right-wing cutback.
Fabian Delph had set Villa on the way to victory over their League One opponents from close range.
Tranmere produced a battling performance but there was no coming back after Chris Herd made it 2-0.
Lambert made six changes to the side comfortably beaten 3-1 at home by Everton on Saturday and it came as no surprise when Villa went ahead after 38 minutes, Delph making no mistake at the far post after a cross from debutant Enda Stevens was not cleared.
League One Tranmere showed plenty of purpose at the start of the second period and Liam Palmer's fierce attempt was blocked by Nathan Baker.
Villa doubled their lead after 66 minutes, Stephen Ireland's low cross allowing Herd to bundle over from close range.
And the hosts made sure of victory nine minutes from time.
Bent, whose previous goal was against QPR in a 2-2 draw on 1 February, rediscovered his lethal touch in front of the net when he converted a pull back from Holman.
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert: "I know from experience those type of games can be tricky.
"It is never easy to win a match, no matter what level you are up against.
"Tranmere gave a really good account of themselves and manager Ronnie Moore has got them going well in their own league."
Tranmere boss Ronnie Moore: "We are better than we showed tonight. No-one expected us to win but we would have liked to have put in a better performance.
"Even though Villa are struggling in the Premier League, they have got quality all over the place."
- 22 Guzan
- 29 Stevens (Holman - 67' )
- 30 Lichaj
- 32 Baker
- 34 Lowton
- 07 Ireland
- 16 Delph Booked
- 25 Bannan Booked
- 31 Herd (Burke - 76' )
- 09 Bent
- 26 Weimann (N'Zogbia - 71' )
- 01 Given
- 37 Williams
- 10 N'Zogbia
- 35 Johnson
- 14 Holman
- 23 Delfouneso
- 36 Burke
- 01 fon Williams
- 02 Holmes Booked
- 04 Taylor Booked (Kay - 65' )
- 14 Bakayogo
- 21 Gibson
- 06 Palmer
- 07 Thompson (Bell-Baggie - 67' )
- 08 Wallace
- 10 Robinson (Harrison - 76' )
- 09 Cassidy
- 26 Akpa Akpro
- 33 Mooney
- 19 Kay
- 12 Harrison
- 15 Kirby
- 17 Power
- 16 Stockton
- 22 Bell-Baggie
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.90:00 +0:17
Free kick awarded for a foul by Graham Burke on James Wallace. James Wallace takes the direct free kick.89:41
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jake Cassidy by Fabian Delph. Danny Holmes restarts play with the free kick.87:55
The ball is swung over by Barry Bannan, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Darren Bent misses to the left of the goal. Jake Cassidy gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nathan Baker. Barry Bannan takes the direct free kick.87:15
Short corner taken by Barry Bannan from the right by-line.86:19
The offside flag is raised against Stephen Ireland. Owain Fon Williams restarts play with the free kick.84:42
Direct free kick taken by Danny Holmes.84:42 Booking
Booking The referee shows Barry Bannan a yellow card.84:31
Abdulai Bell-Baggie fouled by Barry Bannan, the ref awards a free kick.83:55
Direct free kick taken by Fabian Delph.83:55 Booking
Booking Danny Holmes is given a yellow card.83:44
Unfair challenge on Stephen Ireland by Danny Holmes results in a free kick.80:38
Brett Holman provided the assist for the goal.80:38 Goal scored
Goal! - Darren Bent - A Villa 3 - 0 Tranmere Goal scored by Darren Bent from close range to the top right corner of the goal. Aston Villa 3-0 Tranmere.78:57
The offside flag is raised against Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro. Barry Bannan takes the direct free kick.77:45
Long distance shot from Danny Harrison misses to the left of the target.77:03
Danny Holmes takes the free kick.77:03 Booking
Booking Fabian Delph is shown a yellow card.76:49
Fabian Delph concedes a free kick for a foul on Abdulai Bell-Baggie.75:32 Substitution
Substitution Graham Burke is brought on as a substitute for Chris Herd.
Substitution (Tranmere) makes a substitution, with Danny Harrison coming on for Andy Robinson.74:35
Shot by Stephen Ireland. Save made by Owain Fon Williams.73:33
Shot by Andy Robinson. Bradley Guzan makes a save.72:24
Corner taken left-footed by Barry Bannan from the left by-line, clearance by Ben Gibson.70:06 Substitution
Substitution Charles N'Zogbia joins the action as a substitute, replacing Andreas Weimann.66:37 Substitution
Substitution Joe Thompson goes off and Abdulai Bell-Baggie comes on.66:37 Substitution
Substitution (Aston Villa) makes a substitution, with Brett Holman coming on for Enda Stevens.65:11
Assist on the goal came from Stephen Ireland.65:11 Goal scored
Goal! - Chris Herd - A Villa 2 - 0 Tranmere Chris Herd grabs a goal from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Aston Villa 2-0 Tranmere.64:38 Substitution
Substitution Michael Kay replaces Ash Taylor.63:49
The ball is sent over by Eric Lichaj, Andreas Weimann has a header from close in and clears the crossbar.61:33
Inswinging corner taken by Barry Bannan from the left by-line, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Nathan Baker misses to the left of the goal.61:02
Andreas Weimann takes a shot. Save made by Owain Fon Williams.58:55
Effort from just outside the box by Andy Robinson goes over the bar. A cross is delivered by Jake Cassidy.58:22
The ball is sent over by Joe Thompson.56:27
Inswinging corner taken by Barry Bannan.55:00
The ball is swung over by Danny Holmes, Fabian Delph manages to make a clearance.54:15
Free kick awarded for a foul by Chris Herd on Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro. Ben Gibson takes the free kick.51:46
Barry Bannan takes a shot from long distance which goes wide right of the goal.50:21
Long range effort by Danny Holmes goes wide right of the target.49:33
Chris Herd delivers the ball.48:38
The ball is delivered by Andy Robinson.45:01
The game restarts for the second half.45:00 +1:06 Half time
Half Time The half-time whistle blows.42:55
The assistant referee flags for offside against Joe Thompson. Nathan Baker takes the direct free kick.41:28
Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro sends in a cross, Effort from deep inside the area by Andy Robinson misses to the left of the target.39:58
Effort on goal by Stephen Ireland from just inside the area clears the crossbar.37:31
Enda Stevens provided the assist for the goal.37:31 Goal scored
Goal! - Fabian Delph - A Villa 1 - 0 Tranmere Fabian Delph finds the net with a goal from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Aston Villa 1-0 Tranmere.36:01
Stephen Ireland is caught offside. Owain Fon Williams takes the direct free kick.35:24
Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Eric Lichaj.34:35
Darren Bent takes a shot. Save by Owain Fon Williams.32:07
Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro takes a shot. Save made by Bradley Guzan.30:56
James Wallace takes a shot. Comfortable save by Bradley Guzan.29:18
Nathan Baker gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro. Andy Robinson takes the direct free kick.27:24
Shot on goal comes in from Barry Bannan from the free kick,27:24 Booking
Booking The referee shows Ash Taylor a yellow card.27:09
Ash Taylor challenges Darren Bent unfairly and gives away a free kick.24:23
The ball is swung over by Eric Lichaj.23:17
Outswinging corner taken by Andy Robinson from the right by-line played to the near post, Darren Bent manages to make a clearance.21:40
Ben Gibson fouled by Andreas Weimann, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Owain Fon Williams.17:49
Handball decision goes against Joe Thompson. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Barry Bannan from left wing, free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ben Gibson by Nathan Baker. Owain Fon Williams takes the free kick.16:44
Chris Herd takes a shot. Owain Fon Williams makes a comfortable save.14:55
The referee blows for offside against Jake Cassidy. Eric Lichaj restarts play with the free kick.12:53
Shot from long distance by Barry Bannan goes wide of the left-hand post.10:48
The assistant referee signals for offside against Zoumana Bakayogo. Bradley Guzan takes the free kick.10:33
The offside flag is raised against Ben Gibson. Bradley Guzan takes the free kick.9:39
Inswinging corner taken by Andy Robinson, save by Bradley Guzan.6:14
Free kick awarded for a foul by Eric Lichaj on James Wallace. Free kick taken by Ash Taylor.5:15
Foul by Danny Holmes on Enda Stevens, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Barry Bannan.4:15
The ball is swung over by Zoumana Bakayogo.3:50
Andy Robinson delivers the ball, Nathan Baker makes a clearance.3:23
The ball is delivered by Chris Herd.1:13
The assistant referee signals for offside against Darren Bent. Owain Fon Williams takes the direct free kick.0:00
The game begins.
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