Ezri Konsa’s opening goal for Aston Villa was not enough, after a Walcott equaliser saw the Villans leave Goodison Park with a point rather than three.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa travelled to Goodison Park this evening for the first of what Dean Smith likened to the two Play-Off Semi-Finals and the Final – three games in which to secure their Premier League status.
The squad remained unchanged from the win at Crystal Palace, with youngster Kaine Kesler named amongst the substitutes.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin had the first opportunity of the game within the first fifty seconds – showing, as Jamie Carragher said, more attacking promise than they did in a full 90 minutes against Wolves.
Other than this, the opening ten minutes were not much to shout about. Everton enjoyed most of the possession – around 65% – expected when playing at home.
Aston Villa’s first chance came in the 14th minute as Elmohamady played a teasing ball into the box – but Samatta couldn’t get the leverage right on his jump and headed well over the bar.
Everton were forced into a change early on, replacing Mason Holgate – who seemed unable to continue – with Jarrad Branthwaite. The youngster had a hard introduction into the game, taking Tyrone Mings’ full body weight to the back of the head whilst defending a cross into the box after just a few minutes.
Villa enjoyed a prolonged spell of having the upper hand in the next fifteen minutes, but couldn’t quite carve out a clear cut chance from their attacks.
Jack Grealish had an opportunity from outside of the box, striking the ball with the outside of his boot in the 35th minute. His shot was deflected over the bar for a corner.
On the brink of half-time, Aston Villa were awarded a free-kick as Conor Hourihane was tripped by Bernard. The resulting ball in didn’t quite match what was needed.
Two minutes were added before the whistle was blown.
Jack Grealish had two opportunities in the opening four minutes of the second half, dragging his first wide of the near post and his second around the far post.
Lucas Digne was booked in the 55th minute for persistent fouling, with the final straw being a shirt pull on John McGinn. Richarlison was booked six minutes later for a body check on the same player.
The 62nd minute saw Alex Iwobi and Bernard replaced by Anthony Gordon and Theo Walcott for Everton. A minute later and Keinan Davis and Anwar El Ghazi replaced Mbwana Samatta and Trezeguet for Aston Villa.
At the second half drinks break, neither half had registered a shot on target between 15 collective attempts.
Ahmed Elmohamady was booked in the 70th minute for a body check on Anthony Gordon who was looking to spark a counter-attack down Everton’s left hand side.
Ezri Konsa, after a spectacular display in defence all evening, was the man to open the scoring at Goodison Park. Connor Hourihane swung in a free-kick in the 72nd minute which missed Keinan Davis’ diving effort, but Ezri’s out-stretched leg was enough to poke it past Pickford in the net.
Following the goal, Everton replaced Richarlison and Tom Davies with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Moise Kean.
Anwar El Ghazi very nearly doubled Aston Villa’s lead as Grealish swung an exceptional ball to the far post, but the ball hit the Dutchman’s heel and bounced over the bar.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin almost levelled the scores as Andre Gomes squared the ball to him in the box, but the forward took his shot first time, slipping, and fired wide.
Theo Walcott made no mistake in the 87th minute though. The ball found him at the far post and he produced a looping header which beat Pepe Reina. Konsa attempted to clear, but the ball had already found its way into the net.
There were four minutes added at the end of the 90.