Aston Villa returned to winning ways this weekend, with Emiliano Buendia scoring a header from a corner to secure all three points for the claret and blue.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa travelled to Goodison Park this afternoon, hoping to make it six points from two this season against Everton – who were likely going to be buoyed by the sacking of Rafa Benitez and the caretaker leadership of club legends Duncan Ferguson and Leighton Baines.
Aston Villa started quickly, with Ollie Watkins forcing Pickford into an early save – but both sides looked fired up with heavy, but fair tackles and bursts forward aplenty.
Ten minutes later, and Emiliano Buendia forced the Everton ‘keeper into another low save from outside of the box, with a fierce shot.
For all of the pace of the game, and the desire that was being shown from both sides, it was a quiet game for both goalkeepers – with Pickford tested the most in the first 25 minutes.
Just a minute before the end of the first half, it looked like Ollie Watkins might put Aston Villa ahead with a header at the back post. Pickford produced a world-class save with his foot, a reaction save that was responded to by the home crowd with a standing ovation. Watkins, however, was offside when he touched the ball.
During added time, Coutinho forced another save from Pickford with a headed effort – forcing a corner as the last action of the game.
The corner was swung in by former Everton player Lucas Digne, a wonderful, powerful effort that Emiliano Buendia was able to connect a glancing header to. The ball flew into the top left corner, past the reach of Pickford as the Argentinian wheeled away to celebrate.
Aston Villa went in at the break (after a disgraceful action from an Everton fan towards Digne – with a bottle thrown at the left back) ahead, and deservedly so.
Aston Villa started the second half brightly too, with Watkins attacking early on – but to no positive outcome.
Everton made their first change in the 51st minute, replacing Andre Gomes, who wasn’t having the best of games, with Brazilian midfielder Allan. Four minutes later, and Anthony Gordon came onto the pitch, replacing Andros Townsend.
The home side’s first close call on the Aston Villa goal came in the 60th minute, as a corner was swung in, headed across goal and fired towards the net by Ben Godfrey – who was denied by a combination of Tyrone Mings and Emiliano Martinez.
Everton’s final change of the evening came in the 65th minute, with Doucouré replaced by Onyango.
Emiliano Martinez was booked in the 69th minute, for timewasting on a goal kick as the momentum seemed to be with the home side.
Steven Gerrard’s first substitution came in the 73rd minute, as Carney Chukwuemeka replaced Philippe Coutinho, after the Brazilian got more minutes under his belt. Matty Cash was booked for a challenge on Richarlison a minute later, following a poor header back from John McGinn.
In the 79th minute, Ollie Watkins was replaced by Danny Ings.
The game had started bubbling over at this point, with ten minutes remaining. Allan and Godfrey were both booked for Everton within the space of a minute, as tempers began to rise. Tyrone Mings was booked in the 85th minute for a push on Richarlison.
As five minutes were added on at the end of the 90, Steven Gerrard opted to make his final change – replacing goal scorer Emiliano Buendia with Kortney Hause. Hause, of course, signed a new deal this week.
Danny Ings was booked in the 94th minute for a challenge that broke up the game and relieved a little pressure.
Everton had a corner in the 96th minute – a minute over the allotted added time – but it came to nothing as Aston Villa returned to winning ways.