Premier League - Villa see off Liverpool
Stewart Downing bagged the decisive goal in the first half of a disjointed outing for two sides who've only just rallied from disappointing seasons to finish in respectable league positions.
While Luis Suarez was a threat in the second half and Raul Meireles was denied by a supreme Brad Friedel stop, Villa had chances of their own to settle the fixture only for James Collins and sub Gabriel Agbonlahor to somehow miss the target from close range.
With Spurs sending Birmingham down with a late 2-1 victory at White Hart Lane, the result at Villa Park meant nothing to Kenny Dalglish's men in the long run and they end the campaign in sixth.
And with Villa sealing a top-half finish of their own just a couple of match days after sealing their survival, both Dalglish and Gerard Houllier can be relieved that a potentially disastrous season for their respective sides will not be reflected in the final table.
All eyes were on the five teams fighting for survival on this last day of the 2010/11 Premier League season, and those eyes wouldn't have missed much at Villa Park in a stop-start first half.
Though Lucas was able to force a good save from Liverpool old boy Friedel on 14 minutes, decent efforts on goal were few and far between.
Indeed, before Downing's opener, the busiest members of each side were the physios with players going down left, right and centre.
Young midfielders Fabian Delph and Jay Spearing both had to be replaced in the early stages by Marc Albrighton and Jonjo Shelvey, respectively - but the former played a significant part when the contest finally came to life.
The 21-year-old winger's decent delivery into the visitors' penalty area on 33 minutes may have missed the main crowd of forwards and defenders in the 6 yard box, but it fell perfectly for Downing at the far post.
The ex-Middlesbrough man brought it down with his chest and fired into the roof of Pepe Reina's net from a difficult angle to dent Liverpool's hopes of overtaking Tottenham, who were still being held at home to Birmingham.
The second half didn't start any better for the visitors, thanks to news of Roman Pavlyuchenko putting Tottenham ahead, but they nonetheless picked up their own game in the event of the Birmingham clawing their way back.
And just after the hour mark, they were wondering how they weren't level.
Despite Richard Dunne doing well to intercept a long ball upfield, Suarez collected the second ball and draw virtually the entire Villa back line to his tricks and fakes on the left-hand edge of the box.
This allowed him to cross low for the onrushing Meireles, who appeared to have an open goal to tap into before Friedel rushed back into position to save.
Meireles again found himself denied by some superb Villa defending, this time Nigel Reo-Coker getting back to thwart his effort on 67 minutes, moments after James Collins watched a Villa set piece bounce off his shins and wide when he could have put his side two up.
The hosts gradually began to settle on Pool's desperation to claw back into the contest and on the counter with 13 left to play, Downing found Darren Bent onside with a clever ball.
But Bent's low cross to Agbonlahor, which seemed to guarantee the result, was somehow missed by the substitute's outstretched leg.
The final ten minutes flew by with all the focus on results elsewhere - and despite the work of sub David N'Gog, Liverpool had all but conceded that sixth place without European football was a decent enough campaign after a nightmare start under Roy Hodgson.