Roberto Soldado scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot as Tottenham beat injury-hit Hull City 1-0 at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham were far from being at their best and looked set to drop more points at home until Ahmed Elmohamady was adjudged to have handled Jan Vertonghen's cross 12 minutes from time and Soldado scored the resulting spot-kick.
Hull felt hard done when referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot after looking set for a hard-earned point despite being without several key players.
Victory for Tottenham lifted them up to fourth in the table as they secured their first home win in three games.
However, there was concern for the hosts when England winger Andros Townsend crashed over the advertising hoardings soon after Soldado's goal and received treatment for some time before returning.
Villas-Boas made one change to the Tottenham side that won at Aston Villa in their last Premier League outing, Gylfi Sigurdsson dropping to the bench as Aaron Lennon started.
Goalkeeper Steve Harper made his first league start for depleted Hull as one of six alterations to the team beaten at Everton last weekend.
On-loan Hull midfielder Jake Livermore was ineligible to face his parent club, but Tom Huddlestone lined up against his former employers.
Brazil midfielder Paulinho had the first clear-cut chance of a frantic first half after 10 minutes when he got on the end of Lewis Holtby's dangerous free-kick but narrowly cleared Harper's bar from close range.
Harper was called into action five minutes later when in-form winger Townsend tried his luck from 20 yards, but the Hull keeper got down to palm the ball away.
The visitors showed attacking intent of their own and striker Yannick Sagbo burst into the penalty area before forcing a save out of Hugo Lloris.
Hull appealed for a penalty when Paul McShane tangled with Kyle Walker 22 minutes in, but referee Oliver saw nothing untoward.
Huddlestone almost ended his long goal drought in spectacular fashion when volleying just over the bar from 20 yards, while Walker's venomous drive was palmed away by Harper at the other end.
Villas-Boas replaced Sandro with Mousa Dembele at the break and Soldado had his first sight of goal nine minutes into the second half when Towsend played him in, Harper making a fine save at full stretch to deny the former Valencia striker.
After further dogged resistance from Hull, Tottenham were then awarded a penalty when Vertonghen's cross struck Elmohamady's arm and Oliver pointed to the spot.
Soldado stepped up to casually send Harper the wrong way and lift the tension at White Hart Lane.
There was concern for Townsend when he went over the advertising boards at full tilt, but he was able to return and Spurs survived a late scare when Huddlestone blasted a free-kick wide in the closing seconds.
|Coach: André Villas-Boas|
for Sandro 46'
for L. Holtby 60'
for A. Lennon 70'
|BREAKING NEWS: Torres to join Milan on permanent deal|
|Scottish Premiership Review: Celtic held to shock draw, rivals fail to capitalise|
|Wenger sings Song´s praises|
|Pochettino calls for bravery|
|West Ham could lose Allardyce - Sullivan|
|League One Preview: Saunders takes charge for Colchester clash|
|Aguirre denies any involvement in La Liga match-fixing scandal|
|Mourinho impressed by Koeman´s Southampton|
|QPR v Crystal Palace: Millen recast in familiar role|
|West Ham v Arsenal: Allardyce eyes further home comfort|
|Elusive Coppa Italia on Juventus´ wish list - Marotta|
|Jones eyes swift response|
|Millen focused on QPR clash|
|League Two Preview: Shrewsbury, Wycombe and Burton vie for year-end top spot|
|Mancini not expecting big-money signings at Inter|
|Tottenham v Manchester United: Carrick expects tough return|
|Pearson eager to see Leicester resolve|
|Newcastle United v Everton: Martinez demands clinical touch|
|Liverpool v Swansea City: Rodgers backs returning Mignolet|
|Bayern can still improve - Sammer|
|Warnock sacked by Palace|
|Aston Villa v Sunderland: No club too big to go down, says Lambert|
|Hull City v Leicester City: Pearson vows to keep going|
|Stoke City v West Brom: Hughes targets elusive back-to-back wins|
|Rodgers dismisses Balotelli exit rumours|
|Modric will not rush Madrid return|
|Dyche pleased with Vokes return|
|Southampton v Chelsea: Koeman vows to go on the offensive|
|A-League Review: Six-goal Gosford thriller, Victory leave it late|
|Manchester City v Burnley: Pellegrini warns against complacency|
|Dortmund can fight on two fronts - Watzke|
|Sterling hails improved Liverpool belief|
|Rosicky eager to build on QPR winner|
|Wenger: ´We made it hard for ourselves´|
|Kane: Spurs eye top four|
|Di Maria in doubt for Spurs clash|
|Ba left out of Senegal AFCON squad|
|Redknapp frustrated by penalty call|
|Wenger sees Giroud wrongs|
|Premier League schedule a ´disgrace´, says Poyet|
|Championship Review: Bournemouth stay top, Heskey scores on Bolton debut|
|Hughes lauds Bojan performance|
|Koeman: Saints marching on|
|Pardew rues referee error|
|Arsenal 2 QPR 1: Sublime Alexis secures the spoils|
|Martinez questions Walters decision|
|Poyet laments Sunderland mistakes|
|League One Review: Swindon cruise to win over Walsall|
|Irvine aware of need for improvement|
|United still doing ´very bad things´ - Van Gaal|
|Lambert proud of players despite Swansea defeat|
|Warnock bemoans Palace defence|
|Bruce hails Hull´s spirit|
|Pochettino relieved to come away with victory|
|Dyche: We had our pocket pinched|
|Monk hails Fabianski performance|
|Pearson demands greater concentration from Leicester|
|Kompany set for City return|
|Rodgers hails character after battling win|
|League Two Review: Ainsworth frustrated by Luton, Shrewsbury go top|
|Everton 0 Stoke City 1: Lacklustre Everton slip to defeat|
|Sunderland 1 Hull City 3: Triumphant return for Bruce|
|Burnley 0 Liverpool 1: Sterling wins it at Turf Moor|
|Leicester City 1 Tottenham 2: Eriksen piles misery on Pearson´s men|
|Manchester United 3 Newcastle United 1: Rooney extends hosts´ streak|
|West Brom 1 Manchester City 3: Three and easy for in-form champions|
|Swansea City 1 Aston Villa 0: Hosts break Boxing Day duck|
|Crystal Palace 1 Southampton 3: Mane marks return with star performance|
|Allardyce upbeat despite defeat|
|Van Dijk happy at Celtic - Deila|
|Table-topping Chelsea delight Mourinho|
|Chelsea 2 West Ham 0: Mourinho´s men ease to victory|
|Suarez enjoying Messi, Neymar link-up|
|A-League Review: Garcia rescues point for Perth, Adelaide up to second|
|Poyet calls for mid-season break|
|Van Gaal rules out Januzaj move|
|Rodgers: Balotelli may have to get used to bench|
|Lallana: I was trying too hard|
|Walker juggles music, football careers in Sweden|
|Song to face ´brother from another mother´ Fabregas|
|Adriano announces Le Havre deal|
|Pardew braced for Old Trafford test|
|Lescott unfazed by City reunion|
|Tskhadadze appointed Georgia coach|
|United to finish top three - Ferdinand|
|Allardyce: Stamford Bridge stalemate saved my job|
|Southampton need three January signings, says Watson|
|Liverpool can make Champions League, says fanzine editor|
|Walsh: Hull clash crucial for Leicester|
|Toure, Aubameyang and Enyeama make shortlist for African gong|
|Docherty backs Chelsea to win two-horse race|
|Liverpool could benefit from Hyypia influence - Scales|
|Saudi Arabia name Asian Cup squad|
|Forty-year-old Cahill no problem for Postecoglou|