Brett Holman's first Villa goal earned a point in a testing encounter against QPR at Loftus Road.
The Australia international was on target with a superb eighth-minute shot from just outside the penalty area, only for Jamie Mackie to bring the Londoners level 10 minutes later.
It was always going to be a difficult afternoon as Harry Redknapp took charge of Rangers at home for the first time and Villa barely threatened in the second half.
But manager Paul Lambert's decision to operate a three-man central defence paid dividends as Villa extended their unbeaten run to three games.
For all that, the visitors were grateful to some excellent saves by Brad Guzan and Rangers also hit the woodwork on a couple of occasions.
Even before the early breakthrough, Villa had underlined their intentions, Christian Benteke's sheer persistence enabling him to regain possession before hitting a shot which was blocked.
And a minute later the visitors were in front, Holman bringing Ashley Westwood's short pass under control just outside the penalty area before unleashing a superb left-foot half-volley.
Robert Green managed to get his hands to the ball but could only push it against his left-hand post and into the net.
Eric Lichaj then fired well over after following good work by Matt Lowton but on 18 minutes Rangers were level, Mackie meeting Samba Diakite's cross from the right with a glancing header which drifted beyond Guzan's reach and into the corner of the net.
Benteke thought he had restored the lead when he headed home Lowton's deep cross a couple of minutes later, only to be denied by an offside decision, while Nathan Baker ventured forward to head over from a Barry Bannan corner.
Villa, though, had two let-offs either side of the half hour mark.
First, Guzan rushed out to save with his feet after Shaun Wright-Phillips had raced clear through the middle and then the Rangers winger sent a tremendous right-foot drive crashing against the post.
There was a lengthy delay when Stephane Mbia went down near the centre-circle and was clearly in considerable distress.
The midfielder was eventually carried off on a stretcher and replaced by Shaun Derry in the 38th minute.
Holman's superb reverse pass to Gabby Agbonlahor set up the next chance, the striker's curling low shot being pushed away by Green before the home side got the ball clear.
Mbia's injury resulted in seven minutes of first half stoppage time which produced little real attacking menace, although Villa came under heavy pressure early in the second period.
In one sustained spell, Wright-Phillips had one shot deflected for a corner by Baker and another saved by Guzan, who also did well to palm away Nelsen's hooked shot.
The keeper came to the rescue again in the 55th minute, this time pushing away a rising drive from sub Ji-Sung Park.
In the 66th minute, Lambert sent on Derrick Williams for his Villa debut as part of a defensive reshuffle.
The Republic of Ireland youngster went on for Chris Herd, but took up the left wing-back position, with Eric Lichaj switching to the right and Lowton moving inside to occupy the position vacated by Herd.
It was increasingly a rearguard action by the visitors and there was further relief when Guzan tipped Nelsen's 79th-minute header on to the woodwork.
Yet Villa almost grabbed a winner in the 89th minute, sub Karim El Ahmadi shooting not far wide after Agbonlahor had played the ball across the penalty area.
QPR: Green; Bosingwa, Nelsen, Hill, Traore;Diakite (Hoilett, 69), Mbia (Derry, 38), Granero (Park, HT); Wright-Phillips, Mackie, Taarabt. Unused subs: Murphy, Ferdinand, Cisse, Da Silva.
Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Herd (Williams, 66), Clark, Baker; Lichaj; Holman (El Ahmadi, 71), Westwood, Bannan (Delph, 67); Agbonlahor, Benteke. Unused subs: Given, Ireland, Bent, Weimann.
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