Ex-Clarets striker Danny Ings opened the scoring in the seventh minute when calmly finishing past Nick Pope after Emiliano Buendia’s pass split Nathan Collins and Connor Roberts.
Buendia then added a second for the Villans just after the half-hour mark when Dwight McNeil failed to spot Lucas Digne’s overlapping run, the Frenchman pulled the ball back to the penalty spot where his Argentine team-mate, formerly of Norwich City, side-footed home via a deflection off the heel of James Tarkowski.
Steven Gerrard’s side then emulated their start to the game after the break when netting seven minutes into the second half. This time it was Ollie Watkins on the scoresheet as the forward powered a header from John McGinn’s delivery beyond Pope from close range.
But with the fight for survival threatening to go right down to the wire, substitute Maxwel Cornet netted what could prove to be a vital consolation in stoppage time when taking the ball around Emi Martinez from an Erik Pieters pass and rifling a finish into the roof of the net.
It finished 3-1. Here are the ratings.
1. Nick Pope 6
A few moments of indecision in and around his own penalty area when Villa played the ball over the top. Left completely exposed for all three of the away side's goals. Made a number of routine stops, while throwing in a smart stop to deny Cash in the second half, but otherwise a game to forget in front of England boss Gareth Southgate. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Photo: Stu Forster
2. Connor Roberts 5
Breached by Buendia's defence-splitting pass for Ings' opener and slow to get over to Watkins in the lead up to Villa's second goal. The impressive Luiz caused the Welshman ample problems, especially when play opened up, while he and McNeil weren't always on the same page defensively. The away side's third goal also came from the full back's side of the pitch. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Photo: Catherine Ivill
3. Charlie Taylor 5.5
Caught on his heels for Villa's 'killer' goal as Watkins showed more vigour to meet McGinn's delivery. He was then turned inside out by Cash, who almost made it four when forcing Pope into a fine save at his near post. Struggled to get past the halfway line for the final hour as Villa controlled the ball and threatened on the break. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Photo: Richard Heathcote
4. Nathan Collins 5
Arguably the Irishman's toughest assignment to date since coming into the side. Didn't cover himself in glory when exposed by Buendia's incisive pass, which allowed Ings to run into acres of space to finish. Caught out for pace with the occasional ball over the top and didn't fare too well when isolated in one-v-one situations in front of goal. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo: GLYN KIRK