Emile Heskey ensured Gerard Houllier's return to Premier League management with Aston Villa was a winning one after his late header secured a 2-1 victory over Wolves.
Heskey's third goal in his last four appearances separated the sides following a hard-fought derby at Molineux.
The former England striker, who Houllier signed during his time as Liverpool manager, rose high above his marker to power home a Stephen Warnock cross in the 88th minute to earn all three points for Villa.
Houllier's managerial reign began with a Carling Cup victory over Blackburn Rovers in midweek and the French coach was delighted with Heskey's late strike, which sent the Midlands club up to fifth place in the table.
Villa had opened the scoring through Downing in the 25th minute with a goal created by a superb cross from impressive youngster Marc Albrighton.
His low cross from the right bypassed the Wolves defence and picked out Downing in space on the back post and he prodded Villa into the lead.
Wolves refused to be bowed and Kevin Doyle caused the visiting defence problems every time he picked up the ball.
Strike partner Steven Fletcher drew an excellent save from Brad Friedel low down to his left, while Carlos Cuellar was forced to head a Jody Craddock effort away from danger in the closing stages of the first half.
Wolves began the second half where they left off in the first and at times Villa struggled to get out of their own half.
It was little surprise when the home side did manage to restore parity through Matt Jarvis on the hour-mark.
But although the scoreline was fully justified, the equalising goal was fortuitous as his hopeful early cross from the left flank dropped between Doyle and Friedel and bounced untouched into the net.
Both sides pressed for a winner in an entertaining finale but it was Villa who found the one moment of quality needed to settle the game.
Warnock floated over a cross and Heskey leaped high above Christophe Berra before finding the corner of the net with an unstoppable header.