Photos: Aston Villa 0, Burnley 1
Danny Ings scored what is likely to be his last ever goal for the club as the Clarets rounded off their Premier League campaign with victory.
The England under 21 international, whose contract at Turf Moor expires in the summer, netted his 11th of the term when heading past Jed Steer in the sixth minute at Villa Park.
And there was another clean sheet for Tom Heaton, as the newest addition to Roy Hodgson’s England squad stretched his record in to double figures for the season.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche handed Norwegian midfielder Fredrik Ulvestad his full debut, with Matt Taylor dropping to the bench. Defender Michael Keane was also recalled to the XI at the expense of Michael Duff.
Ings, who looks destined for a move to Anfield with Liverpool, scored his 43rd goal for the Clarets shortly after Kieran Trippier had tested Steer with a set-piece from 30 yards.
Ulvestad, who made an impressive start to life in England, sat the ball up to Ashley Barnes, the forward reciprocated by beating Leandro Bacuna to the header, and Ings stole a yard on his marker to guide the ball beyond Steer and in to the corner.
It was the first time the Clarets had scored in the opening 10 minutes of a league fixture this term, and it spoiled Tim Sherwood’s dress rehearsal for his FA Cup final with Arsenal at Wembley next weekend.
Ron Vlaar should have levelled proceedings when perfectly positioned from Christian Benteke’s cushioned header but, with time and space on his side, the Dutch defender rifled his shot just wide of the upright with Heaton rooted to the spot.
Steer stopped Ings’s glancing header after Ulvestad had popped up on the left hand side before the former Bournemouth hitman blazed over when unmarked at the back post following great work from George Boyd to beat Nathan Baker at the bye-line.
Barnes was withdrawn midway through the half following a collision with Villains skipper Fabian Delph and Sam Vokes was his replacement.
Benteke twice went close for the hosts as the half moved in to its latter stages. The Belgian marksman brought Delph’s delivery down on his chest but saw his effort deflect wide off the boot of Jason Shackell.
Delph and Benteke combined again moments later, but Heaton foiled the 15-goal hitman at the near post.
Ashley Westwood sliced wide of the target from inside the box once Charles N’Zogbia had cut inside from the left and the midfielder was thwarted again just before the interval as Heaton turned his volley over the bar.
After the break Villa continued to probe but failed to find a way beyond a resolute Clarets defence and an inspired Heaton.
Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor were both wasteful in front of goal as they skewed efforts wide before the latter was denied by a superb reflex save from Burnley’s stopper.
The visitors had the opportunity to double their advantage when Ings forced Villa’s rearguard on the back foot, but George Boyd was denied when attempting to clip the ball over Steer from his team-mate’s incisive pass.
Delph’s bending effort was beaten away by Heaton as the hosts continued to press for the equaliser and N’Zogbia’s stinging drive was spectacularly diverted over the bar by Heaton’s fingertips minutes later.
Ings has made 130 appearances for the club since his move from the Cherries in August 2011, and his contribution was recognised by the travelling support when he was substituted in the 88th minute.
As Ings made way for Steven Reid to make the final appearance of his 17-year career, chants of “You’ll always be a Claret” reverberated around a pocket of Villa Park.
Delph’s fizzing drive flashed through a crowd and crept by the post in Villa’s final push, but nothing was going to prevent Dyche’s men from bowing out of the top tier in style.