Blackburn produced a remarkable turnaround to end a miserable spell of form with 2-1 defeat of high- flying Aston Villa.
Despite going a man down after 68 minutes, Blackburn proved the stronger, more stubborn side, coming from behind to win with a late penalty against an Aston Villa team who were on a five-game winning streak.
"It's a great day. It's why I do this godforsaken job, for days like this," said a smiling Sam Allardyce. With the score 1-1, Richard Dunne was called for handball when trying to prevent Franco Di Santo from making an overhead kick. David Dunn stepped up to the penalty spot to send the ball past the former Rovers goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
"We've come through with flying colours today," Allardyce said. "Not only come from a goal down, but actually won a game at 1-1 with 10 men with 25 minutes to go. They showed the character that I've been looking for, that I knew we had and it came out in abundance today."
This was Blackburn's first victory over Villa since 2006 and their first against Martin O'Neill. Rovers started the day in the relegation zone after managing to scrape together four points from five games. Now they sit 15th.
Vince Grella was sent off for his second yellow card in the 68th minute. While the momentum then seemed to be with Villa, the anger of Allardyce after Blackburn's 3-0 loss to Everton last week had seeped through to his players and they continued to frustrate Villa, with Brett Emerton also forcing a reaction save from Friedel.
A subdued O'Neill admitted the sending off "may have galvanised Blackburn Rovers" and said he had asked referee Mark Clattenburg for clarification on his decision to award a penalty. "We should have got something from the game," he said.
O'Neill's bright spot was Gabriel Agbonlahor: he has scored in the last five games, and put Villa ahead in the third minute. After a cross from John Carew, Agbonlahor's mis-hit shot bobbled across the box, and with Paul Robinson sprawled on the ground, bounced in off the far post. Blackburn replied in the 23rd minute through Chris Samba. Ryan Nelsen's lob at the halfway line bounced once, then was inadvertently headed on by Dunne for Samba to score.
Blackburn striker El-Hadji Diouf, who is under police investigation for allegedly racially abusing a white ballboy at Everton last Sunday, had a quiet game. Aston Villa avoided any talk of their own problems by leaving Nigel Reo-Coker on the bench.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the match: Dunn