Carew quick on the draw as referee comes under fire

Everton 1 Aston Villa 1

A dramatic finale, in which Everton's Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Aston Villa's Carlos Cuellar were sent off, could not disguise the fact that a contest between two clubs with top-six aspirations fell far short of the entertaining standards they set last season, when the net bulged 15 times in three league and cup collisions.

The goals, with Bilyaletdinov opening the scoring and John Carew equalising, were squeezed into little more than a minute's play each side of half-time. But neither Tim Howard nor his fellow American Brad Friedel, who was making his 200th consecutive Premier League appearance, had to cover himself in glory during a curiously tentative game.

Bilyaletdinov, a £12m signing from Lokomotiv Moscow, received a straight red for a high challenge on the Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov with four minutes remaining. Cuellar, who had already been booked, followed in the 89th minute after a seemingly fair tackle on Yakubu Ayegbeni, referee Lee Probert's decision perhaps influenced by an incensed Goodison Park crowd.

Injury-plagued Everton thus recorded a third successive 1-1 draw at home against Midlands opposition. David Moyes insisted that his side have a strong squad when everyone is fit, but feared they might be too far behind the leading group by the time that happened. "We're not playing with a great deal of confidence but I felt we nullified Villa quite well," the Scot said. "The one thing Everton have got is resilience."

His Villa counterpart, Martin O'Neill, accepted that a draw was "a fair result overall". However, he argued that Mr Probert had erred on one of the two late dismissals. "The first was absolutely correct – it was a nasty challenge," he said. "But he got the second one wrong. I've seen it again and Carlos got a toe on the ball."

Everton's hopes of improving on the stalemates with Wolves and Stoke were scarcely enhanced by Moyes' continued faith in a lone-striker system. Louis Saha, the player with half of their modest total of 12 league goals before yesterday, remained on the bench until the final stages, leaving Yakubu to plough a lone furrow up front.

It was a measure of the dearth of goalmouth action that the closest either side came to scoring before first-half stoppage time was an opportunist volley by Villa's former Liverpool left-back Stephen Warnock. Even then the ball bounced twice on its way beyond the far post.

The impasse ended after Tim Cahill reached a pass launched down the right flank ahead of Richard Dunne, who looked favourite to get there first. The Australian's hooked cross was contested by Yakubu and James Collins, the ball breaking for Bilyaletdinov to side-foot his second goal in English football and ruin Friedel's hopes of marking his landmark with a clean sheet.

O'Neill withdrew James Milner at half-time and the change reaped an instant dividend. Howard did well to parry Gabriel Agbonlahor's deflected shot only for the ball to fall to Carew, whose drive found the net – the Norwegian's first goal of the season.

Carew's lively cameo saw Agbonlahor redeployed as a right-sided attacker, and Villa swiftly began to look the more likely winners. A booming 30-yard drive by Petrov was deflected behind for a corner, and at every set-piece Dunne and Collins piled into the home penalty area in the hope of repeating their success in the defeat of Chelsea.

The introduction of Saha at last ensured support for Yakubu, who might have sealed the points in the closing minutes after Villa's towering back line inexplicably made a mess of clearing Sylvain Distin's long throw-in. The Nigerian failed to connect with his attempted overhead kick.

Attendance: 36,648

Referee: Lee Probert

Man of the match: Carew

Match rating: 5/10

scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape