- Brown 9
ASTON VILLA 2
- Carew 16,
- Delfouneso 82
**Brown's 10th minute deadlock breaker came against the run of play, but was well-taken, nevertheless.
The midfielder found the bottom corner from just outside the box after Anthony Vanden Borre latched on to Kanu's through pass and Kevin Prince-Boateng stepped over his cut-back.
But the strike failed to rob Villa of early momentum, as they immediately looked for a response.
James denied Stewart Downing, who cut in from the right flank and arrowed a low drive towards the bottom corner.
But when Carew got into a similar position just seconds later, he got the desired result.
The number 16 proved to be lucky for Carew - his 16th goal of the campaign coming on 16 minutes when he beat the offside to control Stephen Warnock's lofted pass and drill home with authority.
After such a frantic start, it was quite baffling that the two sides went in at the break with the scoreline still at 1-1.
Brad Friedel had to be at full stretch to push behind Boateng's curling shot and while Villa were left ruing a lack of luck when Ashley Young's cross came back off the post via a deflection off Marc Wilson, the two incidents that followed caused greater frustration.
With Phil Dowd and Howard Webb already off Villa's Christmas card list, referee Lee Probert left himself in danger of paying a similar penalty when he failed to point to the spot after Vanden Borre tugged down Agbonlahor.
However, Probert got it spot on when Papa Bouba Diop lost control of the ball and sent Carew tumbling four minutes before the break. The striker hammered his penalty down the middle but James did brilliantly to keep it out.
Portsmouth didn't relent in their efforts to steal an unlikely victory and substitute Tommy Smith went close when Michael Brown's throw-in was flicked into his path.
But the final word was saved for Villa's two super subs - Delfouneso and Emile Heskey.
With eight minutes to go, Heskey applied a crucial flick to Milner's cross and Delfouneso volleyed home from close range with only his second touch since replacing Agbonlahor.
It ensured Sunday certainly was a happy day for the man they call the Fonz.
Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Ashley Young, Milner, Petrov, Downing, Carew, Agbonlahor.
Subs: Guzan, Sidwell, Delfouneso, Heskey, Reo-Coker, Beye, Clark
Portsmouth: James, Vanden Borre, Mokoena, Wilson, Sowah, Diop, Yebda, Brown, Boateng, Kanu, Utaka
Subs: Ashdown, Smith, Pack, Ward, Ritchie, Ciftci