Southampton took an important step towards Premier League safety as they recorded a 2-0 win over Aston Villa to leave Dean Smith's side precariously hanging above the relegation zone.
Shane Long scored early into the first half after converting from Moussa Djenepo's pull-back, before Stuart Armstrong - with Pepe Reina having deserted his goal following a late corner - stroked the ball into an empty net deep into injury time.
Southampton were on top all afternoon and were good value for their three points, with Djenepo and Danny Ings spurning excellent chances throughout.
Villa, meanwhile, were left to rue another miserable away day, as they were consigned to their ninth league defeat in their past 13 games, leaving them 17th in the table and only one point above the drop with West Ham, Watford and Norwich still to play this gameweek.
Southampton, responding to back-to-back defeats, grabbed only their fourth home league win of the season, as they moved 10 points clear of the relegation zone.
- The Saints made three changes as Jan Bednarek, Moussa Djenepo and Will Smallbone - making his Premier League debut - came into the side. Out dropped Jannik Vestergaard, Sofiane Boufal and Kyle Walker-Peters.
- Villa made two alterations as Danny Drinkwater and Bjorn Engels made way for Marvelous Nakamba and the returning Tyrone Mings.
Southampton: McCarthy (7), Ward-Prowse (6), Stephens (7), Bednarek (7), Bertrand (6), Hojbjerg (7), Smallbone (7), Armstrong (8), Djenepo (9), Long (8), Ings (6).
Subs: Adams (7), Romeu (6), Obafemi (6),
Aston Villa: Reina (5), Guilbert (5), Konsa (5), Mings (5), Hause (6), Targett (6), Douglas Luiz (6), Nakamba (6), Grealish (7), El Ghazi (6), Samatta (6).
Subs: Hourihane (6), Trezeguet (6), Baston (6)
Man of the Match: Djenepo
How Saints unpicked toothless Villa
Following back-to-back league defeats, Southampton came out of the traps fit and firing.
Will Smallbone, 20, nearly marked his Premier League debut with an early goal as he saw his deflected long-range effort skew off the outside of the post with Reina left stranded.
Southampton soon made their early dominance count, though, with Long scoring his second league goal of the campaign (8).
The Irishman adjusted his body well to convert with his thigh after strong work from Djenepo, who had pulled the ball back across goal with the outside of his right foot.
Villa were rattled and Southampton rampant as both Djenepo and then top scorer Ings spurned glorious, one-on-one chances inside the area to extend the home side's lead.
The only glimmer Southampton gave Villa in the first half was of their own making, as Alex McCarthy dallied on a clearance inside the area for too long, allowing Mbwana Samatta to block his effort, but luckily for the Saints goalkeeper the ball drifted harmlessly wide.
Villa, who failed to register a single shot at goal in the opening 60 minutes, displayed little attacking threat even in the second period, as Jack Grealish - off-form by his standards - ploughed a largely lonely furrow in trying to inspire a toothless front line.
Saints maintained their pressure and control of the game, as Che Adams - a second-half substitute - nearly scored his first goal for the club, but for Kortney Hause producing a last-ditch block to divert the striker's goalbound effort.
Dean Smith tried to inject life into his flagging Villa side by bringing on Conor Hourihane and Trezeguet, but Southampton defended resolutely before they put the gloss on the victory deep into injury time (90+5).
After Reina went up for a corner with only seconds of the game remaining, the ball was cleared into the path of Armstrong, who was left with the easy task of side-footing into an empty net.
Having won just two of their last 32 away games in the Premier League, Aston Villa will now have to pick themselves up ahead of their Carabao Cup final vs Manchester City next Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football.
What the managers said
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said: "I asked everybody to make St Mary's a fortress again and the only way is for us to have the responsibility to show up and create chances all the time, to play quick in behind.
"This was a perfect performance from everybody."
Hasenhuttl added: "We tried to hold them in their half, we tried to play football in their half.
"The only negative in the first half was that we didn't score more often."
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith said: "I just wanted to see more fight in the players - just show me that you care, show a little bit of passion about what you're doing.
"That's the responsibility of any professional footballer and we never did that."
Smith added: "I'm not even bothered about the cup final next week - this was our cup final today and the performances were terrible.
"Certainly a lot of players have played themselves out of the team for next week."
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Man of the match: Moussa Djenepo
The Malian was electric all game, and Frederic Guilbert will be mightily relieved to see the back of him.
Djenepo was a constant thorn in the side of the Villa defence, with his pace, trickery and directness causing problems throughout.
The wideman will be disappointed not to have bagged himself a goal after missing two fantastic openings in the first half, but his all-round display - working tirelessly at both ends of the pitch after patching himself up following a nasty gash above his eye - helped set the tone and steer the Saints to a crucial, battling win.
Aston Villa are winless in eight matches against Southampton in all competitions (D3 L5) since winning 3-2 at St. Mary's Stadium back in December 2013.
Aston Villa have won just two of their last 32 Premier League away games (D5 L25).
Southampton's Shane Long has more goals (7) and goal involvements (12 - 7 goals and 5 assists) against Aston Villa than any other side in the Premier League.
- Southampton faced just four shots against Aston Villa today, their joint-lowest tally in a Premier League match since the start of last season (also four v Wolves in October 2019).
Southampton face a trip to West Ham next Saturday (3pm kick-off), while Aston Villa face Manchester City in next Sunday's Carabao Cup final (4.30pm kick-off), live on Sky Sports.