Southampton pile on the pain for dismal Aston Villa
Southampton breezed to victory against wretched Aston Villa as supporters continued to turn on the relegated hosts.
The Saints clinched a 4-2 victory against the Barclays Premier League's bottom side to inflict further misery on the fallen club.
Awful defending gifted Shane Long and Dusan Tadic first-half goals before Tadic bagged his second after the break and Sadio Mane netted at the death.
Ashley Westwood's double spared Villa outright humiliation, although Southampton dominated for long spells with Long and Virgil van Dijk hitting the woodwork.
Villa, who are dropping out of the top flight for the first time since 1987, are now a game away from equalling their club record losing streak of 11 from 1962-63 after a 10th straight defeat.
Southampton still have an outside chance of reaching Europe next season and will not have an easier game in their quest to qualify.
The home fans jeered their team onto the pitch and a poisonous atmosphere almost turned toxic after just two minutes when Long missed a sitter after abject Villa defending.
Micah Richards missed a routine header to allow Long in and, after riding Joleon Lescott's half-hearted challenge, the Ireland striker smashed the bar from 12 yards with just Brad Guzan to beat.
The defensive howlers saw home fans inside Villa Park turn on their own players inside the first three minutes in their first game since relegation was confirmed.
Villa's reaction was muted, although Jordan Ayew hit the side-netting, and they eventually fell behind after 15 minutes.
It was all too easy for Southampton as Ryan Bertrand was allowed time to cross and Long peeled off Lescott to convert a free header from six yards.
From then it should have been a procession as Van Dijk's low drive hit the post after half an hour and Long had a goal disallowed for offside four minutes later.
That the Saints were playing at a pedestrian pace but still slicing Villa open should have been a concern for the hosts, but their fans entertained themselves by turning protest banners into paper planes to launch at the pitch.
Their anger was stoked when more miserable defending gave Southampton a second goal after 39 minutes.
Bacuna, criticised after he last month claimed he wanted to play in the Champions League next season, launched a reckless backpass from inside the Southampton half towards Guzan.
Long spotted the chance and raced ahead of Lescott and, after being denied by Guzan, set up Tadic for a simple tap-in.
Villa supporters erupted against their side and Bacuna but at least had something to cheer in first-half injury time after Westwood pulled a goal back when he drilled in a loose ball.
There was little response from Villa after the break though as the visitors tried to kill off the game.
Jay Rodriguez - on his first start since September after a foot injury - had a shot deflected wide by Lescott before Guzan saved Long's neat effort after 56 minutes.
Two minutes later the goalkeeper pushed Steven Davis' free-kick over, and Southampton finally got their third with 19 minutes left. Long latched onto a loose Idrissa Gana pass to sprint forward and tee up Tadic to find the corner from the edge of the box.
Long then could have made it 4-1, only to fire over following Guzan's error with 10 minutes remaining.
Westwood pulled a goal back when he swept in a consolation from 16 yards.
But Mane sealed the victory in stoppage time when he headed in Cedric Soares' cross from six yards.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
AVFC Birmingham Mail @AVFC_News: " Romantically malnourished 2 Southampton 4 #avfc."
Brad Guzan: 5/10
Alan Hutton: 6
Micah Richards: 4
Joleon Lescott: 4
Aly Cissokho: 5
Ashley Westwood: 6
Idrissa Gana: 5
Carlos Sanchez: 5
Leandro Bacuna: 3
Jordan Ayew: 6
Scott Sinclair: 5
Kevin Toner: 6
Rudy Gestede: 6
Jack Grealish: 6
Fraser Forster: 7
Cedric Soares: 7
Jose Fonte: 7
Virgil van Dijk: 7
Ryan Bertrand: 7
Dusan Tadic: 8
Victor Wanyama: 7
Steven Davis: 7
Oriol Romeu: 7
Jay Rodriguez: 7
Shane Long: 8
Jordy Clasie: 6
Sadio Mane: 7
Shane Long: The striker has six goals in his last seven games against Villa and should have had a hat-trick, rather than just one. He continually ripped the hosts' defence apart and grabbed two assists for Dusan Tadic to go with his opener. Long was denied by the woodwork and Brad Guzan but deserves the plaudits for a selfless and wholehearted performance.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Leandro Bacuna's horrible backpass gave Southampton their second goal and underlined the error-strewn nature of Villa's season. He was jeered from when his name was read out before kick-off and a calamitous mistake was always going to stoke the fires against him. It was a mistake and a goal which was symptomatic of Villa's season and really should have seen the floodgates open.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Villa fans voted with their feet in a show of disgust at their relegation, while they booed their own team throughout. Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott and Leandro Bacuna were jeered and a mis-hit free kick from Bacuna was even welcomed by the Villa fans. Defensive mistakes from the trio which led to Southampton's first two goals only served to intensify the anger against them.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT
What can Villa caretaker manager Eric Black do? He is, temporarily, in charge of a set of players who appear to have given up long ago. Again he watched Villa slide hopelessly to defeat at they edged closer to an unwanted club record of 11 straight losses. Southampton are unlikely to have easier victories this season but Ronald Koeman will be upset they allowed Villa back into the game just before the break.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Watford v Aston Villa, Barclays Premier League (Saturday, April 30)
Southampton v Manchester City, Barclays Premier League (Sunday, May 1)