The 27-year-old, a summer signing after leaving Wolves on a free transfer, fired the Eagles to all three points when he struck with just three minutes left on the clock.
Scott Dann’s towering header had given Crystal Palace the lead in the second half before Pape Souare’s own goal gave the visitors a deserved equaliser six minutes later; but Sako’s late strike was enough to claim all three points for the hosts.
The late winner left Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood looking understandably devastated as Pardew’s Eagles stole maximum points to continue a good start to the season.
Palace now assume fourth place in the top flight with six points, following victories over Norwich and now Villa. The visitors, meanwhile, occupy 12th place, with an opening-day victory over Bournemouth representing the club’s only points of the season to date.
Here are the best photos from the weekend action, including a glum-looking Sherwood...