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Downing lights up forgettable finale

To Aston Villa, the spoils and the regional supremacy that secures pole position in the midlands quartet of clubs. To Liverpool, zilch, not even the tepid consolation of a Europa League place.

A telling finale, too, when the loudest cheer of this muted affair was reserved for the White Hart Lane team whose defeat of Birmingham condemned Villa's second city rivals to relegation.

Doubtless a period of reflection before a summer of regeneration lies ahead at Villa Park and Anfield. Nostalgia devotees will recall how 30 years ago this month both these teams overwhelmed domestic and European football, Villa were First Division champions as Liverpool claimed their third of five European Cups.

Three decades on and the erosion has been acute even if Kenny Dalglish, a Liverpool player in that 1981 final, has restored some order.

The visitors never looked like coming away with anything after Villa scored when Darren Bent began the move that ended with Stewart Downing smacking in a left-foot volley.

Irish Independent