Jack Grealish's stunning second-half equaliser grabbed Aston Villa an important point in a 1-1 draw with Brighton.
In a game of few chances, Brighton took a first-half lead through Leandro Trossard (38) but Villa improved after the break and Grealish thrashed home a fierce half-volley to get his team back on a positive footing following their embarrassing 6-1 home defeat by Manchester City.
Brighton almost nicked it late on through Neal Maupay but Pepe Reina - making his debut for Villa - produced an epic one-handed save to earn Villa a share of the spoils.
Tempers boiled over at the final whistle, with an altercation between Maupay and Ezri Konsa leading to the players being separated by team-mates and the coaching staff, including Villa assistant boss John Terry.
The result means Villa remain in the relegation zone with 22 points from 23 matches, while Brighton stay 14th, very much looking over their shoulder as, across all competitions, Graham Potter's men have won just two of their last 13 matches.
Brighton: Ryan (6), Webster (6), Dunk (6), Propper (6), Stephens (6), Bernardo (7), Alzate (6), Mooy (6), Connolly, (6) Maupay (6), Trossard (7)
Subs: Montoya (6), Gross (6), Murray (6)
Aston Villa: Reina (7), Konsa (6), Mings (7), Hause (5), Guilbert (7), Marvelous (6), Drinkwater (5), Targett (6), El Ghazi (6), Grealish (8), Trezeguet (7)
Subs: Vasillev (6), Luiz (7), Hourihane (6)
Man of the match: Jack Grealish
How Grealish punished sloppy Seagulls
You could sense the nerves around the Amex in the early stages with the home fans knowing a Villa win would move them level on points with Potter's men.
That atmosphere transferred itself onto the pitch with both teams producing little quality.
Graham Potter made three changes from the defeat at Everton and tweaked the system, reverting to a back four. Steven Alzate, Aaron Connolly and Aaron Mooy all returned.
Dean Smith made five changes from the embarrassing defeat against Manchester City. There was a Premier League return for Pepe Reina in goal while Frederic Guilbert, Marvelous Nakamba, Matt Targett and Trezeguet all were handed starts.
With the half petering out without a single shot recorded on target, Brighton hit the front.
Trossard produced the moment of quality seconds after Grealish had fired a low drive wide when sprinting through on goal.
The Belgian was found in space by Maupay and fired an angled drive past the reaches of Reina for his first goal in 12 appearances.
Brighton dropped deeper in the second half which allowed Villa to get a foothold into the game as the three Villa centre-backs played more aggressively with Tyrone Mings leading that charge.
Dean Smith turned to his bench 23 minutes from time and brought on Douglas Luiz for the ineffective Danny Drinkwater.
It was the substitute's pass that opened up the Brighton back four for Grealish to take centre stage.
He was afforded plenty of space by the two Brighton centre-backs and his confidence was clear to see as he let fly with a powerful left-footed strike that found the top corner. Cue wild celebrations in the away end.
The game climaxed to a dramatic conclusion as the hosts found their stride late on but Reina, who played only once in Serie A before leaving AC Milan this season, rolled back the years to acrobatically push away a Maupay effort that was certainly heading into the bottom corner. Maupay also had a fantastic opportunity with the last attack of the game but he could not make contact from close range following a Lewis Dunk knockdown.
His frustrations were clear to see at full-time as he clashed with former Brentford team-mate Konsa, triggering a melee that involved both benches - an incident that both managers said was just "handbags".
What the managers said
Brighton boss Graham Potter said: "It was an important game and it's obviously disappointing not to win, but I thought we were really good in the first half and with a bit of luck could have probably been further ahead.
"You'd expect a response from the opposition and they did come back at us, but we also responded well to their goal and had chances towards the end of the game.
"Neal [Maupay] has that effort well saved and we had a little opening at the very end too, but it just wasn't to be."
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith said: "It was a well-deserved point. A tale of two halves. They didn't trouble Pepe Reina too much and scored on the breakaway after Jack [Grealish] thought he should have scored. We weren't aggressive enough in the first half - that changed in the second half.
"Reina was untroubled but he is calmness personified. You wouldn't know he was making his debut - he's a World Cup winner and very experienced. He showed calmness. The players know they've got a calmness behind them. His charisma is rubbing off on everyone. He made a telling contribution."
Man of the match: Jack Grealish
Are you watching Gareth Southgate? The development of the Villa skipper must be a joy for everyone associated with the club to watch. This was a game very low on quality but one that was lit up by a moment of ruthlessness and quality finishing from a player becoming a serious talent. Since moving further forward, Grealish has now scored seven goals in his last 14 Premier League appearances and Brighton must be sick of the sight of him. He has scored in each of last four meetings between the teams.
Opta stats - Brighton blow another lead
- Brighton have dropped 14 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season - only West Ham (17) have dropped more.
- Aston Villa are the only side without an away clean sheet in the Premier League this season.
- Aston Villa have earned four points from their last two Premier League away games (W1 D1), as many as they had in their previous 17 on the road in the competition (W1 D1 L15).
- Neal Maupay was involved in 50% of Brighton's 10 shots in this match (4 shots, 1 chance created), and was the only Brighton player to have more than one shot.
- All three of Leandro Trossard's Premier League goals for Brighton have been scored at home.
Brighton now go to Bournemouth on Tuesday night at 7.30pm, while Villa host Watford at the same time.