Vic secures point for Toffees
Substitute Victor Anichebe rescues a point for Everton after Darren Bent had given Villa the lead in an uninspiring clash at Villa Park.
By Tom Mallows
Last Updated: 15/01/12 6:09pm
Substitute Victor Anichebe rescued a point for Everton after Darren Bent had given Aston Villa the lead in an uninspiring clash at Villa Park.
Alex McLeish's men had offered little in the first half but responded to the Scot's team-talk after the break with a much improved display, Bent giving them the lead from close range after 56 minutes.
Toffees boss David Moyes replied by throwing on Nigeria striker Anichebe and the impact was almost immediate, the striker beating Villa's offside trap to collect Landon Donovan's pass and coolly slide the ball past Shay Given just eight minutes after coming on.
Villa brought on new loan signing Robbie Keane for his first appearance since joining from LA Galaxy but it was Everton who finished the stronger of the two sides, Anichebe seeing another effort saved by Given at his near post.
McLeish's side at least ended their run of four successive home defeats with Stephen Ireland having one of his best games in midfield.
But their star performer was recalled keeper Given who had been sidelined for six weeks with a hamstring injury.
He justified his instant return to action in place of Brad Guzan with several fine saves.
Villa were the first to threaten after Bent made a probing run towards the Everton box and was brought down by John Heitinga.
Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov's 25 yard free-kick contained plenty of power and was fisted away by the diving Tim Howard.
Villa were the more purposeful in the early stages and Marc Albrighton's shot was blocked after Alan Hutton had teed up an opportunity.
Everton came more into the game and new signing Darron Gibson's flighted pass picked out a run into the Villa area from Tim Cahill but his first touch let him down.
Given made an excellent save away to his left to keep out a Louis Saha glancing header from a Leighton Baines free-kick.
He then had to turn aside a misdirected header from his own defender Stephen Warnock from a Royston Drenthe centre.
Drenthe made a crucial interception at the far post, tracking back inside his own area to deny Albrighton following a cross from Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Everton appealed in vain for a penalty after Hutton appeared to pull back Saha as he attacked a Landon Donovan centre.
Marouane Fellaini became the first player to be yellow carded after 35 minutes for bringing down Stephen Ireland after he had dispossessed the Everton player.
Villa finished the first half strongly and Bent headed over from a Warnock centre four and Howard parried a curling effort from Agbonlahor around the post.
Given made his third fine save of the game at the start of the second period after Collins brought down Drenthe.
Baines' curling free-kick found Fellaini unmarked at the far post and his powerful header was blocked by the Republic of Ireland keeper.
Howard parried a shot over his shoulder from Bent before the Villa striker broke the deadlock after 56 minutes.
Albrighton's centre was only half cleared and Ireland poked the ball across the box for Bent to net from close range. It was his seventh goal of the campaign.
Howard then held onto a header from the former Sunderland player from another Ireland centre.
Moyes responded by bringing on striker Victor Anichebe in place of Drenthe after 61 minutes.
Hutton had a volley deflected wide after more good play by Ireland and a cross from Albrighton was headed over by Agbonlahor.
But Anichebe had been on the pitch only eight minutes when he brought Everton level. Donovan supplied the telling pass and Anichebe kept his cool to slip the ball past Given.
McLeish introduced loan signing Robbie Keane with 10 minutes remaining in place of Warnock with Clark reverting to left-back.
Petrov had a shot deflected wide and Bent had a header punched away by Howard.
|Aston Villa||Team Statistics||Everton|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||4|
|5||Shots off Target||2|
|48.2||1st Half Poss.||51.8|
|57.3||2nd Half Poss.||42.7|