Aston Villa 1-3 Everton: Toffees coast to victory at struggling Villa
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 02/03/16 7:13am
Aston Villa's dismal run of form continued as Everton cruised to a comfortable 3-1 victory at Villa Park on Tuesday to leave Remi Garde's side rooted to the foot of the table.
It took the Toffees just five minutes to take the lead as Ramiro Funes Mori capitalised on some slack defending to head the visitors in front on five minutes, before Aaron Lennon rounded off a fine counter on 30 minutes to double the visitors' advantage.
Romelu Lukaku made it three on 60 minutes to become the highest-scoring Everton player in a Premier League season with his 17th goal of the campaign - surpassing Tony Cottee's previous record of 16.
After large sections of the Villa support left the ground in protest on 74 minutes, substitute Rudy Gestede headed a late consolation as they slipped to an 18th defeat of the season.
The result leaves Villa starring relegation in the face, eight points from safety, while Everton leapfrog Merseyside rivals Liverpool into 10th.
Villa welcomed back forward Jordan Ayew from a three-game suspension ahead of kick-off as one of four changes to the side which lost to Stoke Saturday. Everton, meanwhile, made just one change as Kevin Mirallas replaced Tom Cleverley, who was ill.
Not for the first time this season, Garde experimented with his team selection, opting for a back-three, and the change had an adverse effect as Everton took an early lead.
Funes Mori managed to get away from Micah Richards in the area, and he had the simple task of heading the ball back across a stricken Brad Guzan.
Everton rarely got into top gear and encouraged Villa to attack, with Funes Mori deflecting a clearance off Agbonlahor which Joel Robles saved on 23 minutes before Ashley Westwood drew the Toffees 'keeper into a smart save shortly after.
Those scares, however, did kick Everton into gear and they were two ahead following a swift counter. Barkley released Mirallas down the left where, once in the area, cut the ball back for Lennon to turn past Guzan.
Guzan almost gifted Everton a third when he spilled Mirallas' effort into the path of Lukaku, but he atoned for his error by blocking the Belgium international's shot before Joleon Lescott blocked Bryan Oviedo's follow up off the line.
Everton started the second half the livelier of the two sides but Guzan was on hand to keep them at bay, expertly tipping Lukaku's goal-bound header around the post on 59 minutes.
But Lukaku was not to be denied. Within a minute he had got on the end of Funes Mori's low centre and turned the ball home from six yards for a landmark goal in both his and Everton's season.
The best Villa chances kept falling for Westwood but he couldn't find the target on 63 minutes, smashing an effort into the ground and wide.
Villa supporters then staged a planned walk-out which left large parts of the stadium empty, but those left were treated to a goal as Gestede rose highest to head home Jordan Veretout's cross 11 minutes from time.
The goal threatened to spark a Villa comeback but Everton stood firm, as they had done for most of the game.
Aston Villa: Guzan (6), Hutton (6), Richards (5), Lescott (5), Clark (5), Cissokho (7), Bacuna (6), Gana (6), Westwood (6), Agbonlahor (5), Ayew (6).
Used subs: Veretout (6), Gestede (7).
Everton: Robles (7), Coleman (7), Jagielka (7), Funes Mori (8), Oviedo (7), McCarthy (7), Barry (7), Lennon (9), Barkley (8), Mirallas (8), Lukaku (8).
Used subs: Baines (5), Stones (5), Niasse (5).
Man of the Match: Aaron Lennon.