Van der Vaart scored twice to take his tally to four goals in three appearances at White Hart Lane, his £8million signing looking more of a bargain by the day.
Not for the first time after a Champions League match this season, Spurs paid for a slow first half and Marc Albrighton's first Villa goal almost handed the visitors a half-time lead but Van der Vaart levelled deep into stoppage time before rifling home a 75th-minute winner to end Gerard Houllier's winning start as Villa boss.
It was a virtuoso performance by the transfer-deadline-day capture from Real Madrid following his Jekyll-and-Hyde display against FC Twente in midweek, demonstrating just how much he will be missed for this month's trip to Inter Milan.
No chance: Rafael van der Vaart beats Brad Friedel to seal the win for Spurs
Tottenham fielded a makeshiftcentre-back partnership today of Tom Huddlestone and Sebastien Bassong,their 10th in 12 games this injury-blighted season, after Ledley Kingfailed a late fitness test.
Even with King available onWednesday night, Spurs looked too open for comfort at times and today'sline-up appeared even more attack-minded.
And they should have been ahead inside five minutes today when Roman Pavlyuchenko nodded over Luka Modric's left-wing cross.
But Villa began to take control of the game and, after a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals, they went ahead.
Terrible defending from Bassong sawhim robbed by Emile Heskey down the right and the revitalised formerEngland striker sprinted along the byline before crossing forAlbrighton to slide home.
Dutch of class: Rafael van der Vaart continued his scoring streak
Spurs screamed for a penaltythemselves 22 minutes in when Pavlyuchenko's shot hit the recalledRichard Dunne's hand but it was not intentional and Alan Hutton sentthe follow-up into the side-netting.
Ashley Young was needlessly bookedfor deliberate handball and Villa suffered a second blow when lonefrontman Heskey limped off to be replaced by John Carew 10 minutesbefore the break.
Pavlyuchenko wasted another chance to score four minutes later, hooking Gareth Bale's excellent low cross wide from six yards.
Carew and Young both fired over from20 yards, Brad Friedel was almost caught out by Van der Vaart'sskidding effort, Albrighton was cautioned for a foul on Hutton andYoung sent a shot on the turn straight at Heurelho Gomes.
Net gains: Aston Villa's Marc Albrighton (right) beats Spurs' Alan Hutton to the ball to hit the opener
Van der Vaart then levelled threeminutes into stoppage time when he climbed above Dunne to nod homeafter Peter Crouch had headed Pavlyuchenko's ball back across goal.
The Holland midfielder was movedfrom the right into a more central role after the restart, withPavlyuchenko withdrawn for Aaron Lennon.
The change almost paid dividends inthe 51st minute when Lennon stood a cross up for Crouch once again tonod down but Van der Vaart was somehow beaten to the ball by adesperate Stiliyan Petrov lunge.
Van der Vaart saw his next effortblocked by Dunne after being found in acres of space by Bale asTottenham began to crank up the pressure.
But Villa remained a threat on thebreak and Huddlestone was looking uncomfortable up against Carew, withthe striker and Albrighton both inches from connecting with Young'sdangerous cross.
Crouch should have put Spurs ahead20 minutes from time when he powered a header over the bar afterHuddlestone had flicked on Modric's corner.
Aerial battle: Stephen Warnock and Rafael van der Vaart contest a high ball
Moments later, Lennon forced a finestop from Friedel with a low angled drive and, when he stood up anotherdangerous cross - this time with his left foot -15 minutes from time,Spurs took the lead.
Crouch once more claimed theknockdown and this time there was no stopping Van der Vaart as he kepthis cool to blast the ball past Friedel.
Harry Redknapp withdrew Modric forWilson Palacios and Villa soon made a double change, throwing onStephen Ireland and Barry Bannan for Petrov and Albrighton.
Dunne nodded a late corner offtarget and James Collins was booked for felling Lennon in full flight,only escaping a straight red by covering defenders.
Lennon was rampant and his latestcross found Hutton, whose shot was blocked before Van der Vaart wassubstituted to a standing ovation in the final minute, Sandro coming onto make his Premier League debut.
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