Villa secured a hard earned 3 points on the road at Goodison Park courtesy of a first half Emi Buendia header. This was a stubborn Everton side that forced Villa to dig deep in the second half particularly, and is a win to inspire confidence in Gerrard’s sides grit and determination.
Everton started the opening minutes with a high intensity, presumably reeling from caretaker boss Ferguson’s desire for them to compete. Villa were the first to have an early sniff though, with Watkins unlucky not to run onto a long ball from Mings after the Everton defence misjudged. Pickford scrambled the ball clear on the edge of the area.
Villa matched Everton though, with neat interplay from Ramsay and Coutinho. McGinn, back after suspension snapped into early challenges. Luiz had the first meaninful effort on goal, firing a free-kick from distance just over the bar after Buendia was fouled.
The Argentine playmaker was involved again inside a quarter of an hour, bursting forward before firing a low effort saved by Pickford. The rebound just evaded the lurking Coutinho.
Ramsey, who’d enjoyed an excellent 2nd half against Man Utd, looked sharp and was denied a clear foul when showing smart close control on the edge of the area. Referee Craig Pawson inexplicably waving away the appeal.
Villa continued to probe; McGinn found Watkins with a smart ball forward, the former Brentford striker played in Coutinho, only for the Brazilian to be crowded out. It was a great chance on the break spurned.
Cash was next to try his luck, rushing towards the Everton defence, Buendia forcing the corner once released. In classic Villa style the home side managed to break, only to waste a 2 on 2 with a poor final ball that Martinez managed to mop up. It was a major let off for Villa, who had only Luiz and Ramsey chasing back.
The hosts had another shakey moment after the half hour mark, with Mina heading over Pickford after a looping ball. Watkins was next up, somehow managing to to control another long ball in the area, before stabbing the ball just wide under pressure from Pickford.
Everton were beginning to get flustered, with Richarlison fortunate after a lunging late challenge on Watkins went unpunished.
As half-time approached, McGinn charged forward, releasing Buendia who delivered a sublime cross for Watkins to head home. Pickford wasn’t having of it though, producing a superb save, as the assistant’s flag was raised for offside. The former England keeper saved moments later, from Coutinho, forcing a corner.
Former Evertonian Lucas Digne delivered a superb corner, which Buendia flicked home to silence the locals and make it 1-0.
The home support then shamed themselves, as cowardly missiles rained down, with a bottle and coins striking both Cash and Digne. Villa went in ahead at the break, as Gerrard stared down Goodison as he strode towards the tunnel.Embed from Getty Images
Everton were first to go closest in the second half, with Richarlison sending a header just over the bar. Ramsey responded immediately, running at pace through Everton before being brought down on the edge of the area. Coutinho’s effort floated over the wall, and the bar.
It was end to end in the early exchanges, with Everton next to press, going close after some head tennis, but a combination of Mings and Martinez keeping Villa ahead with a block. This was a pressure phase that also saw Calvert-Lewin fire wide and Mina just miss the far post with a looping header. Mina was to be gifted another headed with 15 minutes left, only to head well over.
Villa then rolled on Chukwuemeka for Coutinho, needing to try and wrestle momentum away from the home side. Danny Ings soon followed, replacing Watkins, as Villa looked to freshen things up up-top. Villa were under increasing pressure as the game entered the final ten minutes.
Time seemed to stand-still as five minutes of stoppage time ticked down. A last gasp corner did nothing for the nerves either, as the full-time whistle blew. It was a dogged second half rearguard display and a hard earned 3 points on the road.
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