Tottenham Hotspur secured an emphatic 3-0 Barclays Premier League win over Aston Villa on Sunday to clinch UEFA Europa League qualification ahead of Manchester United.
The result never really looked in doubt after Paulinho polished off off an intricate move for their opening goal after 14 minutes.
The hosts had to wait another 21 minutes for their second as Nathan Baker scored an own goal, but it was no less than Spurs deserved against a disappointing Villa side.
Emmanuel Adebayor grabbed the third from the penalty spot towards the end of the first period and although Villa were slightly improved after the break, Paul Lambert's men rarely showed anything to worry the hosts.
One of most positive aspects of Tim Sherwood's reign has been the resurgence of Adebayor and the forward set up Harry Kane twice in the opening 10 minutes, only for Brad Guzan to deny the England Under-21 international on both occasions.
The American's efforts went unrewarded in the 14th minute, however, as Gylfi Sigurdsson's pass was flicked into the path of Paulinho by Kane and the Brazilian slotted home at the second attempt.
Villa found themselves 2-0 down in the 35th minute as Baker knocked Danny Rose's drilled cross past his own goalkeeper, and, three minutes later Gabriel Agbonlahor made his side's position even worse as he blocked a shot inside the area with his elbow enabling Adebayor to smash in the resulting penalty.
With victory effectively secured by half-time, Spurs appeared rather more relaxed in the second half and Fabian Delph almost pulled one back in the 57th minute, but he fired agonisingly wide from range.
Villa continued to see more of the ball than before the break, but still they struggled to craft many chances of note as Spurs remained solid at the back.
The visitors recorded their first shot on target in the 82nd minute as Delph tried his luck from distance but Hugo Lloris easily collected and Spurs claimed the three points to secure sixth place, while their visitors end the season in 15th.
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Tim Sherwood: "I love doing this job, my life would be a lot easier if I wasn't a manager but I want to do it. It's my life, it's what I want to be involved in and continuing doing it.
"If I had started the season, we would have finished in the Champions League places. It will be interesting to see how I am judged when I meet the chairman. If I do leave, it can't be on results. If I'd have known it would only be for five months, I wouldn't have done it, to be honest.
"I can only be judged for the season when I've taken over. A 59% win ratio is second to none. I'm happy with how I have done."
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "What is going to happen next week will happen. It's a great club and it shouldn't be where it is [15th]. I'm the manager of the club and hope to still be here. It's plain to see what we need. If you don't get investment, then it is always hard.
"It's a massive club and the lads are hurting with the criticism but, as I said to the lads, they should be proud for staying up because it's a hell of an achievement."
"It's [staying up] probably the greatest thing I've done since being a manager and I'm saying that after successive promotions with Norwich. But the magnitude of this club with everything that has been going on, it’s been really tough.
"But I said to the lads then (after the match), they've nothing to be ashamed of. It will make them stronger. When you come through adversity it makes you stronger."
|26 Dec 2014||v Leicester (A)|
|28 Dec 2014||v Spurs (H)|
|01 Jan 2015||v Spurs (H)|
|10 Jan 2015||v Crystal Palace (A)|
|17 Jan 2015||v Spurs (H)|
|31 Jan 2015||v West Brom (A)|