Aston Villa's Conor Hourihane scored and set up another goal after a couple of clever free kicks that saw the hosts beat Newcastle United 2-0 in a dominant performance on Monday to create some breathing space above the Premier League drop zone.
Villa soon earned another dangerous set piece and Hourihane again assumed responsibility, firing the ball into the heart of the penalty area where Anwar El Ghazi arrived to knock it into the roof of the net from close range in the 36th minute.
El Ghazi stuck the ball into the net again later in the half but his effort was ruled offside, while Newcastle's only chance in an unambitious 45 minutes was a Federico Fernandez header which was well saved by Tom Heaton.
Newcastle showed a little more imagination after the interval but rarely looked like getting back into the game and it was an unhappy return to Villa Park for their former coach Steve Bruce, who was sacked by the Birmingham side 13 months ago.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak in the league for Villa and took them up two places to 15th on 14 points from 13 games, four clear of the relegation zone. Newcastle are 14th on 15.
"It was important to get a good result because they haven't been great in the past few games," Hourihane told reporters. "The squad doesn't have much Premier League experience so we all have a point to prove."
Former boss Bruce had a sour end to his spell, though, and in his final game at home to Preston North End a cabbage was thrown at him by a fan, an incident he has called one of the lowest points of his long coaching career.
No missiles were aimed at Bruce this time but he was not happy with how his players approached the game.
"In the first half we didn't do enough with or without the ball. We were harshly done by conceding the free kicks but they were well executed and that made it very hard for us," Bruce said.
"Within a few minutes the game's gone. Overall it was a difficult evening for us."