Match ends, Nottingham Forest 1, Aston Villa 3.
A first-half double from John McGinn boosted Aston Villa's play-off hopes after an impressive away win which dented Nottingham Forest's chances of reaching the top six.
The hosts initially took the lead in a frantic opening 15 minutes, in which three goals were scored, as McGinn's two goals put Dean Smith's side ahead at the break.
Forest fought hard to get themselves back into the game in the second half, with a Yohan Benalouane goal ruled out for offside, before Kortney Hause's first strike for Villa put the game out of reach.
The result sees Villa leapfrog Martin O'Neil's side into eighth place in the Championship, two points behind sixth-placed Derby.
McGinn's excellently-taken goals came just eight minutes apart - the first, a low driven shot from the left, was followed by a superb long-range effort from 25 yards that rebounded off the post, beyond Costel Pantilimon in the Forest net.
Jack Colback had given Forest an early lead after his cross-cum-shot looped over Jed Steer in the third minute of the game.
The first meeting this season at Villa park ended in a remarkable 5-5 draw, and after three goals were scored so early it appeared fans at the City Ground could be treated to another high-scoring thriller.
But in an entertaining and competitive game, the only other goal came when Hause deflected a whipped free-kick from Conor Hourihane into the net just after the hour mark to keep the visitors in the hunt for the play-offs.
Nottingham Forest manager Martin O'Neill:
"We are very much still in the hunt. We have to go and win on Saturday, in what is a big game for us.
"But tonight we will lick our wounds and get on with it. We got off to a great start but we were not in front for long enough.
"It was not the best goal in the world for us to concede and it gave Villa momentum, which they kept going by getting a second one.
"But in the aftermath of all this, we cannot forget that Villa are a very good side and perhaps they themselves will want to know why they are in the position they are in, rather than being in the top two."
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith told BBC WM:
"It was a very professional performance. They had a fortunate goal that looked like a cross but we responded really.
"I brought John McGinn back in which was a tough decision because the midfield three have been doing really well. He was brilliant and deserved his two goals.
"He epitomises what we're about as he's a very good player but works so hard - the lads in the dressing room love him.
"[On being two points off the play-offs] I don't want another false dawn so all we will be doing is concentrating on the next game which is Middlesbrough at home."
- 17MilosevicBooked at 61mins
- 22YatesSubstituted forCupido Goncalvesat 76'minutes
- 28Tuncará GomesSubstituted forGuédiouraat 71'minutes
- 6ColbackBooked at 86mins
- 37AnsarifardBooked at 29minsSubstituted forMurphyat 62'minutes
- 19Cupido Goncalves
- 27El Mohamady
- 30HauseBooked at 28mins
- 3TaylorBooked at 65mins
- 10GrealishSubstituted forWhelanat 87'minutes
- 18AbrahamSubstituted forKodjiaat 72'minutesBooked at 90mins
- 22El GhaziSubstituted forAdomahat 64'minutes
- 28L Kalinic
- Mike Dean
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Nottingham Forest 1, Aston Villa 3.
Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa).
Foul by Adlène Guédioura (Nottingham Forest).
Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Andre Green (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jack Colback (Nottingham Forest).
Attempt missed. Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jack Colback.
Attempt blocked. Adlène Guédioura (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Adlène Guédioura (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Nottingham Forest. Conceded by Kortney Hause.
Attempt blocked. Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by João Carvalho.
John McGinn (Aston Villa) hits the left post with a right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right. Assisted by Jonathan Kodjia.
Attempt missed. Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left misses to the right.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Glenn Whelan replaces Jack Grealish.
Jack Colback (Nottingham Forest) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jack Colback (Nottingham Forest).