Dusan Tadic scored twice as Southampton escaped with three points at Aston Villa.
Shane Long headed in on a quarter-hour before squaring the ball to Dusan Tadic who made it 2-0.
Ashley Westood pulled one back for the hosts, but Tadic doubled the lead from the edge of the box.
Westwood fired in his second in the 85th minute making for a nervy finish for the visitors, which was made marginally easier when Sadio Mane scored in injury time.
Aston Villa, who was relegated last weekend, was bombarded by boos in a hostile home environment from start to finish.
Despite four goals from Southampton, the visitors hardly looked in total control and it appeared the only thing reaching full flight were the paper airplanes, which read “Proud history. What future?”, tossed onto the pitch by Villa supporters in protest throughout the match.
Southampton had numerous opportunities to see off their opponent after the restart as Jay Rodriguez’s attempt from close was blocked whilst Long and Steven Davis saw chances saved by American Brad Guzan all inside an hour.
Though Tadic’s second of the day proved vital as Westwood drew the hosts within 2-3 five minutes from full-time when his right-footed shot found the far corner.
Aston Villa by no means laid down after falling behind 2-0 and Rudy Gestede came close to equalising but his header flew over the bar five minutes before Southampton’s third goal.
It was the sixth time this season that Aston Villa, who owns the Premier League’s worst defensive record, conceded at least four goals in a match and the second time they’ve done so in April.
In their own words
Aston Villa caretaker manager Eric Black:
“We’re professional people and we have to continue to do it under whatever circumstances they throw at us, so we’ll continue to prepare the players and see what happens.
“I purely focus on the game and that’s all I’m trying to do is work with the players on the pitch and try and make us as resilient as we can and be competitive. Though what surrounds it is what it is unfortunately.”
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman:
“Pity the two goals conceded, first of the all the first one because it’s right before halftime and the difference between the result 2-1 or 2-nil up.
“We controlled the game – we had good ball possession but finally the score wasn’t what we saw on the pitch because we were by far the better team.
“They are in a very difficult situation. The fans are against the team and against the players and it was a strange atmosphere in the stadium but okay, you have to do your job and that was the message I gave to the players.”
Southampton: Forster, Bertrand, Fonte, Van Dijk, Cedric, Romeu, Davis, Wanyama (Clasie 46), Tadic, Rodriguez (Mane 70), Long.
Unused subs: Stekelenburg, Yoshida, Martina, Ward-Prowse, Pelle.
Goals: Long (15), Tadic (39, 71), Mane (94).
Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Richards (Toner 46), Lescott, Cissokho, Sanchez (Grealish 68), Westwood, Gueye, Bacuna, Ayew (Gestede 59), Sinclair.
Unused subs: Veretout, Gil, Bunn, Lyden.
Bookings: Hutton (58), Gueye (83)
Goals: Westwood (45+1, 85).