Tyrone Mings scored the only goal of the game on a tough night for Fulham at Villa Park.
The England defender headed John McGinn’s right-wing corner into the far corner of the net midway through the first half and it turned out to be enough to give Aston Villa the points.
Willian, who was named in the Fulham side, suffered an injury in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Manor Solomon.
And the visitors, still without suspended striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, were forced to make another change when Harry Wilson went off after 17 minutes and was replaced by Bobby De Cordova-Reid.
Fulham had the first chance of the game when Andreas Pereira sent an acrobatic effort into the side netting in the second minute.
After that they struggled to create openings, and after Mings’ goal former Brentford forward Ollie Watkins missed a couple of opportunities to double Villa’s lead.
With eight minutes remaining, Harrison Reed’s cross was turned into his own net by Mings, but the goal was disallowed as the Fulham midfielder was offside.
Fulham: Leno, Tete (Soares 68), Ream, Adarbioyo, Robinson, Palhinha, Reed (Kebano 83), Solomon (Vinicius 68), Pereira (Cairney 68), Wilson (De Cordova-Reid 17), James.
Subs not used: Rodak, Duffy, Lukic, Diop.