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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 2 April 2011; 3:00pm
2 2
 Aston Villa
 Osman (38')
Baines (pen:83')
Half Time: 1-0
Bent (47', 68')
Attendance: 37,619
Fixture 31
Referee: Mike Jones

Match Summary

A desperate injury crisis effectively picked the team, with seven of Moyes's first-choice players out injured... compounded by having no less than NINE out on loan! — resulting in a line-up of the eleven senior players left, of which seven were defenders...

Heitinga, Bily and Beckford came in Rodwell, Cahill and Saha, with a slew of unknown kids named on the bench, not one of whom had ever played a Premier League game, including Gueye and Vellios, goalscoring stars from the rather poor Everton Reserves side.

Everton ran at Villa from the kick and a muddle between Beckford and Collins allowed Baines to run in momentarily but he was not alert enough to shoot

A really poor free-kick execution by Heitinga was drifted pathetically into the wall.

Downing went on a mazey run through the Everton defence but Distin blocks his shot superbly. Beckford got free on a looped ball over the top but struck it first time.  Some great work set up Osman, on 10 mins with a glorious chance that he lashed at Friedel.

Villa weathered the storm and looked threatening on each attack, but each time, the release ball was a lofted one for the pacey Beckford to chase.  But Villa came back with more incisive passing and plenty of good corners right into the danger area.

On  20 mins, it was Everton's turn to attack, Hibbert getting fouled out wide, but the delivery did not threaten the Villa goal.  They won another free-kick that was delivered better by Baines but to no effect.  but Everton won their first corner. 

Young then made late contact with Osman on the left edge of the Villa box but their tall defence again came out on top defending the lazy lofted balls Everton were putting in.

At the other end, again some good chances for Villa, a good save by Howard and a brilliant block by Hibbert saving Everton's blushes.  Heitinga got booked for a clumsy block on Downing, then Jagielka got booked for his challenge on Agbonlahor.

Despite the end-to-end action, a goal was a long time coming but when it did on 37 mins  it was a fine piece of solo work from Leon Osman, released down the left by a fine ball from Bily.  Osman took on Collins in his run to goal, and deftly fired an early low shot that hit Friedel but had enough legs to bobble over the line. 

Beckford turned awkwardly and looked to do his ankle in but Moyes decided to keep the obviously injured player hobbling around on the field until half-time, no doubt with the instruction to run it off.

Beckford reappeared after the break and kicked-off for Everton who decided to start on the back foot, and it was simple stuff for Villa Downing cutting in unchallenged from the right and Bent lashing it home with ease inside 2 mins of the restart. After Howard went out of his area to challenge A Kyle then missed a sitter that would have put Villa ahead.

Was this now the moment to release the famous Everton secret weapon? It was Coleman who seemed to be suffering with his ankle injury and Moyes finally gave a debut to Magaye Gueye, the French Under-21 star, just as Bilyaltedinov got his ankle trodden on and HE went off for treatment!

From a corner, Heitinga surely would score with a close range header but Friedel saved it amazingly with his head!  Osman with the afters should have curled it in but instead curled it past the far post from a great position.  Osman then had a brilliant chance to score with the goal gapping at his mercy, ghosting in behind everyone but his first-time half-volley blazed horribly way over the bar.

Gueye took a free-kick deep on the right but it drifted poorly into Friedel's hands.  Meanwhile, Downing was behind so much for Villa, running into gapping spaces the Everton defence ceded him.

A great through ball got forward  to Beckford in acres of space in front of Friedel and he was lashed at the crossbar whence it appeared to come crashing down perhaps just over the line but the assistant referee was a little too far back and it wasn't given as Everton questioned the decision, while Freidel's clearance was headed on to Bent in space and suspiciously offside he rolled it with ease past Howard.  2-1 into 1-2, just 20 seconds later! 

Howard was then chopped down by Walker, who went in the book, as Everton struggled to come to terms with the impossibility of the scoreline, having now lost all initiative. But Beckford won a free-kick that Baines cleverly pushed out to Bily, his cross came down nicely for Osman, Everton's superb technical ball-player, and his sent his third gapping chance high over the bar, a shocking, shocking miss.

With 10  mins left, Moyes made a 'brave' decision [Cough!] of bringing on untried Apostolos Vellios to presumably provide some aerial challenge to he giants in the Villa defence, with Distin sacrifie=ced to make way, but for once Everton then decide to play it along the ground, Gueye setting up Hibbert for a great run in and screams to shootm but he didn't.  Then Jagielka ran in and was tripped inside the area, Baines stepping up to fire the penalty straight through Friedel's legs to equalize, much to Goodison's relief.

Osman caught Downing and was booked, as Villa still threatened with each attack, making it a very entertaining if nervy spectacle. Osman finally put an aerial ball in that Vellios laid down nicely for Baines but he wanted the ball on his left foot and then fired over, with time running out.

Three minutes of added time and Bily scamperd down the left to cross well for an excellent snapshot from Vellios that was deflected away from Freidel for a corner. Then a free-kick for Baines on the left driven in low that Osman totally messed up, it hitting his standing leg. Why were Everton now playing so few aerial balls from set-pieces with Beckford, Gueye, Vellios, and the defenders available to challenge?

Villa won a late free-kick that Howard claimed all the way and that was it. Full-time, and a draw stolen from the jaws of victory, principally by some horrendous misses by goalscorer Osman. It was a hugely entertaining game, though, some great end-to-end stuff, lots of incident, some real controversy and a lovely sunny spring day to boot. Just a terrible pity that Everton not the first time in this crazy season failed to win a game that by rights, they really should have won.


Michael Kenrick


Match Report

Injuries, dominance in possession, missed chances and defensive lapses... that could describe any number of Everton games this season but today's compelling draw with Aston Villa, the Blues' 14th of the Premier League campaign, fit that description to a tee.

Louis Saha had joined the ranks of the long-term injured in the lead up to this game, leaving David Moyes with just one fit senior striker and a patched up side featuring Leon Osman as the supporting forward behind Jermaine Beckford. In spite of those odds, Everton could have won handsomely against a Villa side struggling just above the relegation zone, but ended up salvaging a point with a late Leighton Baines penalty.

The Blues held the upper hand for much of the first half but had carved out just one clear-cut chance that fell to Beckford before Osman put them into the lead seven minutes before the break. When Kyle Walker's back-header put Beckford in one-on-one with Brad Friedel, the striker elected to shoot almost immediately rather than take the one or two chances the space around him afforded him and the 'keeper did well to divert his shot wide.

Osman, though, lit up the first 45 minutes with an impressive solo run that ended with him jinking past James Collins and sliding a low shot goalwards that Friedel couldn't prevent from rolling in off his hand.

Despite arguably being the better side on paper Villa generally looked a shadow of their former selves but they had their moments in the first half, with Stewart Downing posing the greatest threat down the Midlanders' right flank. The warning signs were not heeded by the home side, though, and just two minutes after half time the scores were level.

Downing was allowed to drive in from the right as Baines backed off and when he squared it to Darren Bent, the striker swept a first-time shot past Tim Howard to make it 1-1.

Visibly buouyed, Gerard Houllier's side came close to turning the game on it's head five minutes later when Howard bundled Bent over just outside his area and Walker hammered the resulting free kick over from under the crossbar.

But Everton reasserted control after Seamus Coleman was withdrawn and Magaye Gueye made his long-awaited League debut. And the Frenchman made an almost decisive influence within five minutes of coming on, swinging in a corner from the right that Heitinga met six yards from goal but Friedel somehow stopped at point-blank range to prevent an otherwise certain goal.

Osman picked up the loose ball and checked back on his right foot but his attempt to curl it home inside the far post flew wide.

From another corner, Osman half-volled a difficult chance over the bar from the angle before the game did turn in controversial circumstances in the 67th minute. Gueye slipped the ball through the defence for Beckford who slammed a first-time shot off the underside of the bar and, apparently, just over the goalline. With the referee's assistant too far behind play to make any decision, play was waved on.

With Everton's players still wondering if they'd just been denied a goal, Villa counter-attacked and caught the home defence sleeping when Ashley Young sprung the offside trap with a clipped ball over the top and Bent rolled the ball under the stranded Howard and into the empty net.

The Blues were rattled but should have been level again within five minutes off a nicely-worked free kick that Baines played left to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov but when Friedel diverted the Russian's cross into the path of Osman, he snatched at the ball as it dropped and shinned a gilt-edged chance wide with the goal at his mercy.

Thankfully it wouldn't be the last opportunity that Moyes's boys would get. With eight minutes left on the clock, Phil Jagielka surged into the penalty area and when Makoun slid in for the challenge, the Blues' defender artfully ensured that his trailing foot caught made contact and he tumbled to the turf to earn Everton's first penalty from open play all season.

Baines stepped up and despatched an excellent spot kick straight down the middle that Friedel had no little chance to save to make it 2-2.

Unfortunately, the Blues didn't have enough in the tank to stage a grandstand finish but substitute (and second debutant) Apestelos Vellios did see one first-time effort deflected wide in injury time.

With so many draws under their belt and the injuries to the forward line piling up, the result didn't really come as a surprise but the game was notable for a highly promising debut by Gueye who followed up a really useful FA Cup appearance at Scunthorpe with another good showing.

It was another missed chance to gain ground on Liverpool after they lost at West Bromwish Albion and though Everton sit in 7th place in the table, they're still four points behind the Reds and nine off Tottenham in fifth.

Lyndon Lloyd

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2010-11 Reports Index
< Fulham (H) Wolves (A) >
EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Jagielka :35'
  Distin (79' Vellios)
  Heitinga :33'
  Coleman (52' Gueye)
  Osman :84'
  Subs not used
  Anichebe (injured)
  Arteta (injured)
  Saha (injured)
  Barkley (injured)
  Baxter (injured)
  Cahill (injured)
  Fellaini (injured)
  Rodwell (injured)
  Agard (loan)
  Akpan (loan)
  Duffy (loan)
  Silva (loan)
  Turner (loan)
  Vaughan (loan)
  Wallace (loan)
  Yakubu (loan)
  Yobo (loan)
  Walker :70'
  L Young
  Makoun :48'
  A Young
  Agbonlahor (90+2' Heskey)
  Subs not used

Premier League Scores
West Ham 2-4 Man Utd
Birmingham 2-1 Bolton
Everton 2-2 Aston Villa
Newcastle 4-1 Wolves
Stoke 1-1 Chelsea
West Brom 2-1 Liverpoo
Wigan 0-0 Tottenham
Arsenal 0-0 Blackburn
Fulham 3-0 Blackpool
Man City   Sunderland


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