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

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering