London – Tottenham sealed their place in next season's Europa League in emphatic fashion with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
Tim Sherwood's team needed a point to ensure the sixth place finish in the Premier League which would guarantee a place in Europe's second tier club competition and they were never in danger of missing out thanks to a dominant first half display at White Hart Lane.
Paulinho opened the scoring and Nathan Baker's own goal increased Tottenham's lead before Emmanuel Adebayor's penalty finished off lacklustre Villa before the break.
While the Europa League is regarded as something of poisoned chalice, given its lack of financial reward in comparison to the Champions League and the heavy demands placed on teams by its gruelling schedule, there was no doubt Sherwood wanted to secure qualification in what may well prove his final game in charge.
The Spurs manager, who only replaced Andre Villas-Boas in December, is widely expected to be dismissed in the close-season following weeks of speculation linking the likes of Ajax's Frank de Boer and Southampton's Mauricio Pochettino with the job.
If Sherwood does go, at least he was able to bow out on a high with a result that maintains Tottenham's status as European competitors and also ensured they finished above Manchester United, the only side that could have climbed ahead of the north Londoners, for the first time since 1990.
The always-entertaining Sherwood finished with a flourish as he briefly invited a Spurs fan to sit in the manager's seat in the final moments of the match.
Harry Kane headed Adebayor's cross straight at Brad Guzan in the opening minutes and he went close again with a shot that drew a good stop from the Villa goalkeeper.
The hosts' pressure was rewarded in the 14th minute as Paulinho gave them the lead.
Gylfi Sigurdsson's pass ricocheted off Kane to Paulinho and the Brazilian midfielder fired home from the rebound after his inital shot was saved by Guzan.
Paulinho almost followed his sixth league goal of the season with a seventh moments later, but he dragged a decent chance just wide.
Tottenham increased their lead in the 35th minute when Danny Rose crossed from the left and Baker, under pressure from Adebayor, headed into his own net.
Three minutes later, Adebayor added Tottenham's third from the penalty spot after Gabriel Agbonlahor handled Sandro's shot.
That was the signal for Villa's supporters to spend most of the second half expressing their displeasure at boss Paul Lambert and his team, who had only guaranteed their survival last weekend after another poor season.
Fabian Delph nearly gave those long-suffering fans something to cheer when he tested Hugo Lloris with Villa's first shot on target in the 81st minute.
But, with the result beyond doubt, both teams were happy to countdown the final minutes until the end of the season. – Sapa-AFP