Everton vs Aston Villa match report: Romelu Lukaku hastens Villa decline by winning battle of Belgians

Everton 3 Aston Villa 0: £28m striker on target as Jagielka and Coleman help secure three points

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The Independent Online

A tale of two Belgian strikers up against two American goalkeepers, which in each case was comfortably won by the home man, helping to facilitate a straightforward Everton victory. Their centre forward, Romelu Lukaku, came alive after half-time, buoyed by scoring the second goal, which Brad Guzan should have saved. Tim Howard, in contrast, held everything Aston Villa threw at him – not much, in truth, despite the return to the starting line-up of Lukaku’s compatriot Christian Benteke for the first time since March.

This 199th League meeting between the teams, dating back to 1888, was therefore hardly one of the more distinguished, but that was more the fault of the visitors, who after a deceptively good start to the season have predictably fallen away against better opposition, suffering four successive defeats without scoring.

If ever there was to be a fixture in which Everton’s previously loose defence tightened up, this should have been it, and so it proved. To a less than grand total of 10 shots on target in seven previous games, Villa were able to add only one in each half, neither of them by Benteke.

He may have added a more physical presence to a lightweight attack but Everton’s young midfield prospect Ross Barkley, also starting for the first time this season after injury, had a far greater influence on the match and could reasonably have claimed the individual honours ahead of Leighton Baines had he stayed on the pitch longer than 65 minutes. The 20 year-old was excellent throughout that time, and contributed one assist, against two by Baines.

 

“The only worry was how long he could last,” said Everton’s manager Roberto Martinez. “It was longer than I expected and he was sensational. Eight days ago he wasn’t an option but on Thursday he scored three goals in a little exercise that we did and that was his way of saying he was ready.”

The opening goal came following a short corner taken on the right by Baines. Barkley had a shot turned for a second corner, which Baines again took short, then crossed right-footed for another England man, Phil Jagielka, to dive in ahead of his marker and head past Guzan.

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Phil Jagielka celebrates after opening the scoring

The home side deserved their lead, even if Seamus Coleman’s fierce shot when played in by Barkley was for a long time their only threat to improve it. Villa supporters only had one such moment to cheer in the first half, Howard easily holding Tom Cleverley’s effort. All the Villa manager, Paul Lambert, could come up with afterwards was different versions of: “As a team we didn’t deserve anything from the game. We’re a lot better than we showed.”

Soon after half-time Barkley fed Lukaku for a shot that squirmed under the goalkeeper and rolled almost apologetically over the line. Benteke headed against the bar and hit in the rebound but had already been pulled up for pushing Antolin Alcaraz in the process.

Villa’s afternoon was made worse by a third goal for Everton, created by one full-back and scored by the other. Baines, collecting a quick free-kick by the alert Leon Osman, crossed for Coleman to nudge in.

Line-ups:

Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Alcaraz, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Naismith (Eto’o, 87), Barkley (Pienaar, 66), Osman; Lukaku (Gibson, 90).

Aston Villa (4-1-4-1): Guzan; Hutton, Vlaar, Baker (Clark, 26), Cissokho; Westwood; N’Zogbia, (Weimann, 63), Cleverley, Richardson, Agbonlahor; Benteke (Cole, 81).

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Man of the match: Leighton Baines (Everton)

Match rating: 6/10

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