Albert Adomah's third goal in two games helped Aston Villa beat Sunderland in Chris Coleman's first game in charge of the struggling Black Cats.
Coleman was appointed on Sunday, two days after resigning as Wales manager.
Adomah turned in a cross from Robert Snodgrass early on and Josh Onomah's deflected 20-yard strike made it 2-0.
Lewis Grabban's hooked finish made it a nervy finish for the hosts but Villa held on to go fourth in the table, while Sunderland remain bottom.
Steve Bruce's Villa, who have won seven of their past 11 games, are just four points behind second-placed Sheffield United, having also looked to be struggling at the start of the season.
Coleman's Black Cats made a bright start but Villa went in front when Snodgrass's inswinging cross found Adomah, who had time and space to place his shot past keeper Robbin Ruiter.
With Sunderland having plenty of possession in the first half, Grabban forced a save from Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone at the other end with a dangerous low cross before Aiden McGeady fired just wide from 20 yards.
But on Villa's 143rd birthday, Onomah doubled their lead with a shot from outside the area that hit Sunderland defender Tyias Browning on its way into the net.
Grabban's 10th goal in 14 games was not enough to prevent Sunderland's winless league run extending to 16 matches.
Having applauded his new supporters before the kick-off, Coleman was hoping to make an instant impression.
He made five changes in his first game in charge but was forced into several of them, with midfielder Lee Cattermole suspended and Marc Wilson, Duncan Watmore and Jonny Williams all injured in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Millwall.
Eight first-team players currently being out of action shows just why the former Wales manager has such a difficult task in turning his new side's season around.
The Black Cats have failed to win at home in 20 attempts in all competitions and have only won once in the Championship since being relegated from the Premier League last season.
Coleman surpassed expectations by taking Wales to their first major tournament for 58 years and then reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016, and will hope for a similar impact at the Stadium of Light.