Wigan Athletic produced a much-improved performance under interim manager Graham Barrow following the departure of Warren Joyce.
Latics showed great commitment and had plenty of chances to win the game but were frustrated by Aston Villa keeper Sam Johnstone and their own wayward finishing.
James Chester headed Villa in front on 73 minutes before substitute Scott Hogan sealed the three points with another header on 84 minutes.
Latics survival chances look bleak, as they are seven points from safety with only eight games remaining. Improving Aston Villa have won five of their last six matches and remain in 12th spot in the table.
Graham Barrow made four changes to the team that was defeated by Bristol City with Andy Kellett, Craig Morgan, Sam Morsy and Shaun MacDonald replacing Alex Gilbey, David Perkins, Callum Connolly and Stephen Warnock.
Latics started more positively than in recent games and should have been ahead after 12 minutes when a poor back pass from Mile Jedinak set up Omar Bogle but the striker only hit the side netting after rounding Johnstone.
Bogle tried again on 25 minutes but his shot from 20 yards flew well wide of the target.
Gabriel Obertan then tried his luck from the edge of the area and his low drive was narrowly wide of Johnstone’s right post.
Latics were well on top and went closest from a Jacobs free-kick just before the interval.
Jacobs curled the ball around Villa’s defensive wall and just when the ball appeared to going in the bottom left hand corner Johnstone did superbly to push the ball away for a throw in.
Villa rarely threatened in the opening half as Latics enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and had created the better chances.
Early in the second half Andy Kellett limped off very distressed by what looked like a reoccurrence of his long-standing injury. Callum Connolly replaced him as left wing-back.
Wigan continued to be the team most likely to score and Bogle forced Johnstone into another save although he was adjudged to be offside.
Jacobs was having a much-improved second half and he produced a powerful run at the Villa defence before forcing Johnstone into full length save down to his left.
Ryan Colclough replaced Obertan on 61 minutes and he was quickly involved as Connolly forced Johnstone into yet another good save.
Villa managed a couple of dangerous corners, but Buxton got ahead of Jonathan Kodjia for the first and the second evaded everybody in the box and went away to safety.
Colclough then forced Johnstone into another save after 67 minutes. Shaun MacDonald saw his drive deflected for a corner off Jerdinak before Kodjia cleared Colclough’s goal bound effort.
Surely Latics would capitalise on all their chances, but against the run of play Villa went ahead.
Hourihane crossed following a short corner and Gilks wasn’t able to punch clear and the ball fell to James Chester who was able to guide it into the corner of the net.
Bogle looked to have drawn Latics level on 75 minutes when his shot from a tight angle seemed to have beaten Johnstone but the keeper managed get a vital touch to deflect it away.
Latics were throwing players forward as they attempted to draw level and suffered a sucker punch on 81 minutes when Villa scored a second.
Substitute Scott Hogan scoring his first goal for Villa when he headed home Albert Adomah’s right wing cross to seal the three points.
Latics had been on top for most of the game but they had failed to capitalise on all their chances.
They looked much better in a formation that had been successful under Roberto Martinez, but Barrow and his new coaching team must work hard with the players on their finishing during the international break if they are to have any chance of survival.