Football: Aston Villa 3 Everton 0 - Joachim keeps Villa on a roll

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The Independent Online
A STRONG sense of deja claret and blue pervaded Villa Park last night. Aston Villa took up residence as the early Premiership leaders, just as they did last August, courtesy of clinically executed goals by Julian Joachim, Dion Dublin and Ian Taylor.

Although their manager, John Gregory, admitted his team were no more than "average", maximum points from the first two fixtures actually represents a better return than Villa managed a year ago. Everton, already trailing before John Collins's harsh 49th-minute dismissal, were depressingly unambitious and must also have felt an eerie sense of familiarity. In the corresponding game in January they lost 3-0 and had Alex Cleland sent off.

Collins, in fact, endured the definitive day of contrasting emotions. Before the game his wife had given birth to their third child, a boy.

The presence of eight Englishmen in John Gregory's starting line-up had helped to attract Kevin Keegan, and Villa's eighth-minute goal alone may have persuaded the England manager his trip was worthwhile.

All three players involved are fringe candidates for Keegan's next squad. Ugo Ehiogu launched a long ball, for which Dublin outjumped Richard Gough to send Joachim sprinting clear. The diminutive striker held off the covering defender, David Weir, before dispatching a low drive which hit the net via Paul Gerrard's trailing hand.

In terms of timing, the blow was near identical to the one which Joachim's predecessor in the Villa attack, Dwight Yorke, subjected them on Sunday. Joachim also scored last weekend although the excellence of his winner at Newcastle tended to be overlooked after Ruud Gullit's histrionics.

Everton continue to look like a team who have Manchester United's Jaap Stam leading their embryonic scoring chart. With only Kevin Campbell up front for long periods, they left the former Liverpool goalkeeper David James a virtual spectator on his home debut.

James was not forced into a save until the opening minute of the second half when he comfortably held a long-range volley from Collins. The Scotland midfielder, who missed a penalty against Villa on his Premiership debut, remained on the pitch only a further three minutes until he tripped Mark Delaney on the touchline for the second time. As in the first instance, it looked no more than a mistimed tackle, but Collins received a red card along with his second yellow.

Everton's fortunes soon deteriorated further. Alan Thompson, whose cultured left foot could well be pressed into national service this season, played Alan Wright in on the overlap. The wing-back's cross, expertly cut back, was met by a right-footed volley of equal precision by Dublin from around the penalty spot.

Gregory felt sufficiently confident of the outcome to use the three permitted substitutes - England internationals all - and Villa helped themselves to a third goal six minutes from time. Joachim set up Taylor, whose rising drive from 22 yards left Gerrard helpless.

Aston Villa (3-5-2): James; Ehiogu, Southgate, Calderwood; Delaney, Boateng (Hendrie, 57), Taylor, Thompson (Stone, 68), Wright; Joachim, Dublin (Merson, 62). Substitutes not used: Ghrayib, Oakes (gk).

Everton (4-4-1-1): Gerrard; Weir, Gough, Unsworth, Ball; Ward (Jeffers, 73), Gemmill (Pembridge, 73), Collins, Barmby; Hutchison; Campbell. Substitutes not used: Dunne, Cadamarteri, Simonsen (gk).

Referee: G Barber (Surrey).

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