Jagielka lets Villa off the hook after Cahill double
Aston Villa 2 Everton 2
Thursday 15 April 2010
On a night of goals from glancing headers at Villa Park, with Tim Cahill outscoring Gabriel Agbonlahor by two to one, Aston Villa rescued a point in stoppage time when a ball that skimmed off the head of Everton's Phil Jagielka was fumbled over the line by the previously outstanding Tim Howard.
A twist of Cahill's forehead gave Everton an early lead, only for Villa to level with 18 minutes remaining through a replica effort by Agbonlahor, the striker's 15th of the season coming from a cross by the endlessly creative James Milner. Two minutes later, Cahill struck his own ninth of the campaign in similar fashion following Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's corner, but at the start of time added on Jagielka and Howard conspired to turn Ashley Young's cross into a second equaliser.
Both managers felt they had been on the wrong end of crucial refereeing decisions. Martin O'Neill, who did not conceal his disdain for costly aberrations by Phil Dowd and Howard Webb in Villa's disappointments at Wembley in the Carling Cup final and FA Cup semi-final respectively, continued the theme. Not only had Cahill given Richard Dunne "a little bit of push" before the Australian scored Everton's opener, but O'Neill argued that the free-kick from which it stemmed, for a foul by Stephen Warnock on Leon Osman, should not have been given.
For Everton, David Moyes said he had studied Jagielka's unwitting contribution to the Villa cause frame by frame on a television monitor and claimed John Carew was "just offside" when Young delivered the cross.
Villa needed more than a draw if they were to keep alive their hopes of a tilt at next season's Champions League, although with their next three fixtures being at Portsmouth and Hull City and a home derby with Birmingham City, hope springs eternal. Realistically, they are now competing for a Europa League spot, as are Everton from further back, so forcing Moyes's side to settle for a third consecutive draw was useful in one respect.
O'Neill justifiably hailed an "enthralling spectacle, as a lot of our games with Everton seem to be", though he was less than enthralled by the outcome. "Maybe a point doesn't suit either side in terms of our aspirations – Everton's for European football and ours for something higher," he said. "I thought before the match that we'd have to win all our remaining games [to finish in the top four]. I certainly think that's the case with our last five now, but it's not impossible."
The Villa manager spoke of his team's "top-class resilience", given that they had played an FA Cup semi-final against the Premier League leaders on a difficult surface at Wembley last Saturday evening. "I watched Chelsea play Bolton on TV on Tuesday and they looked a bit sluggish," he said. "So I thought we were terrific."
Asked to comment on Milner's display, so soon after the England midfielder was the victim of a wild challenge by John Terry at Wembley, O'Neill added: "It was extraordinary. He is developing into a really great player."
Moyes admitted it was "galling" to have drawn three games in succession, despite an overall sequence of just two defeats in 20 matches. Everton's focus, however, remains firmly on the theatre of European football. "Some managers might not mind missing out on it because it gives you a better chance in the league, but this club needs it," he said, adding with a grin: "If any of the teams above us don't want it, I'll take their place."
Everton went ahead midway through the first half after the referee Martin Atkinson penalised Warnock. Leighton Baines crossed to the right wing to curl an inswinging ball with his left foot, and while the ball was in flight, Cahill stole away from Dunne, illegally according to O'Neill, to collect one of his trademark headed goals. Agbonlahor emulated him to pull Villa level just when they were beginning to labour, but Cahill swiftly restored Everton's advantage from Bilyaletdinov's corner.
Under pressure from Carew, Jagielka gave Villa hope of an unlikely victory in the four remaining minutes of time added on. Yet it was the more fluid Everton, through an angled drive by Phil Neville that flashed tantalisingly wide, who came closer to claiming all three points.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Friedel; Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Warnock (Delfouneso, 77); A Young, Milner, Petrov, Downing; Agbonlahor, Carew. Substitutes not used: Guzan (gk), L Young, Sidwell, Delph, Heskey, Beye.
Everton (4-1-4-1): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Heitinga (Rodwell, 50); Pienaar, Osman, Cahill, Bilyaletdinov (Yobo, 89); Yakubu (Saha, 63). Substitutes not used: Turner (gk), Hibbert, Senderos, Wallace.
Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).
Booked: Aston Villa Milner, Petrov; Everton Cahill, Howard.
Man of the match: Milner.
Latest in Sport
Pornhub: Cheeky Liverpool fan uploads Philippe Coutinho wonder-goal video to adult website
Liverpool injury news: Brendan Rodgers could be without up to seven players for Burnley game... as Jordon Ibe posts picture of knee brace
Arsenal shareholders Stan Kroenke, Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri appear on Forbes' rich list - with a combined net worth of £14.9bn
Watch the moment a basketball player reassures a small boy after a mass brawl erupted on court
Jon Stewart brings The Daily Show to WWE Raw as Seth Rollins pays the price for feud with TV presenter
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'