ASTON VILLA 1 (Bent 55) – EVERTON 1 (Anichebe 68)
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni better learn how to find his way to Goodison because he’s going to be a constant visitor in the run-up to Euro 2012 as he keeps tabs on Coleman, Duffy and Gibson, his three young starlets who now wear the blue of Everton. First impressions can be misleading but the efficient, cool way Shane Duffy dealt with one of the most potent strikers in the league – Darren Bent – was very encouraging and if he continues to play at this level, he might yet save the club from having to delve into the transfer market. In the long history of Everton they have produced some fine centre-halves – have they found another? Darron Gibson, though short of match-fitness and just 36 hours earlier a Manchester United player, as David Moyes said “Gave the team something new” and looked assured and comfortable on the ball and in the tackle. His passing success-rate was a creditable 83%, just a jot behind the 85% of midfield partner Fellaini.
Everton dominated the early exchanges with all the attacks coming through the boot and from the quick wits of Landon Donovan; early on his wicked cross from the bye-line set up the in-rushing Saha and only a clear push from Hutton robbed him of a goal or a penalty as the ‘unsighted’ Clattenburg waved away appeals. Gibson and Fellaini, playing side-by-side in the engine room looked solid and the ex-United man gave a glimpse of what he has in his locker when he delivered a lovely through ball into the penalty area which Cahill unfortunately failed to control.
Villa started the second half the stronger and when the goal came, on fifty five minutes, it was a messy affair with Bent finally putting the ball in the net off an Evertonian backside after it had pin-balled around the area. The Toffees equalizer thirteen minutes later was made in the USA and quite simply the best goal Everton have scored this season. Howard bowled the ball out to Donovan on the left, the Californian carried the ball 60 yards cut inside and played a beautifully weighted pass through the Villa backline which Anichebe, timing his run perfectly to avoid offside, took in his stride and slotted past Given. Big Vic clearly likes the Midlands air, this was his second crucial goal in these parts in two weeks.
As so many times this season an encouraging display away from home. With a few of the injured perhaps returning next Saturday’s home game against Blackburn Rovers becomes another opportunity to build momentum which Everton surely will not spurn…..again.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Given; Hutton, Collins, Dunne, Warnock (Keane 81); Albrighton, Petrov, Clark, Ireland; Agbonlahor, Bent
Unused subs: Guzan, N’Zogbia, Delph, Cuellar, Bannan, Gardner
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard; Neville©, Duffy, Heitinga, Baines; Fellaini, Gibson (Bilyaletdinov 84); Donovan, Cahill, Drenthe (Anichebe 61); Saha (Stracqualursi 88)
Unused subs: Mucha, McFadden, Vellios, Gueye
Referee: Mark Clattenburg