Aston Villa 1 - 2 Everton

There were many war-weary Evertonians, all too aware of their club’s history in this competition and all too accustomed to defeats in the early rounds, who greeted the draw for the third round of the Carabao Cup with a resigned shrug. After all, it came 10 days after the Blues had been taken apart at Villa Park on the back of the kind of performance that seemed to spell another long struggle against relegation this season and precious little optimism for a strong cup run.

The more optimistic and defiant no doubt saw this as a chance for Everton to gain fairly swift revenge for their 4-0 drubbing at Aston Villa’s hands in August and it was one that Sean Dyche’s men grabbed with both hands with arguably their strongest display since dismantling Brighton at the Amex Stadium last May.

Taking heart from Saturday’s fine win at Brentford, Everton smothered Villa at times for the first hour of this game, harrying, pressing and forcing mistakes from their hosts and Unai Emery, whose team had won 10 straight at home before this evening, could have had few complaints if the tie had effectively been over by the halfway stage.

It surely would have been had John McGinn been spared the ignominy of an own goal six minutes before the interval and Dominic Calvert-Lewin shown more composure with a finish to a gilt-edged chance a minute after that.

As it was, the striker, who was making his first start since fracturing his cheekbone in the previous meeting with the Villans five weeks ago, found all the poise he needed five minutes into the second half to comfortably slot past former team-mate Robin Olsen and score what proved to be the winner that handed Everton an unlikely fourth-round berth.

There have been times over the past year where the Toffees have looked utterly bereft of organisation, talent and belief and not only destined for the Championship but deserving of relegation. At other moments they have had to draw on every last reserve of spirit and determination to grind out the results required to keep them in the Premier League.

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And there have been others — depressingly fleeting — like at Brighton and against Crystal Palace at the high watermark of Frank Lampard’s time at the club where Everton have actually looked impressive and an appreciable sum of the parts that have been assembled by nine different managers over the past decade.

Tonight was one of those moments that swept away any excuses the players might have had for their abject showing on this ground earlier this season, their brush with humiliation at Doncaster in the previous round, and for their incomprehensibly impotent display against Arsenal 10 days ago. It set the benchmark for how the side should approach teams away from home and laid down a marker that says Everton should be nowhere near the bottom three come May, assuming their shallow squad isn’t hit by a crippling injury crisis along the way.

It also raises hopes that the Blues could go deep into a competition they have never won, particularly as should they progress past Burnley in the fourth round, there will be a maximum of six top-flight teams left in the competition and Manchester City won’t be one of them!

Dyche, taking charge of his 500th game as a manager, may not have had many options open to him in terms of wholesale changes to the side that had won at Brentford on Saturday but he handed Jack Harrison a very strong debut on the right flank, started Calvert-Lewin and Arnaut Danjuma in attack while resting Dwight McNeil, Idrissa Gueye and Ashley Young by deploying a five-man back line with Nathan Patterson at right wing-back and Michael Keane among the centre-halves.

Villa would have the first sight of goal when Youri Tielemans flashed a half-volley just over from 20 yards out but the hosts soon found it difficult to handle the intensity from Everton.

And when a clutch of Blue shirts hassled the Villans’ defence into giving the ball away on the edge of their box and Danjuma and Calvert-Lewin kept the ball alive with headers, Amadou Onana put James Garner into space with a sumptuous reverse pass that the former Manchester United winger thumped past Robin Olsen with a fine left-foot finish.

Keane’s poor pass wasn’t punished when the resulting through-ball was too heavy for Moussa Diaby and Jarrad Branthwaite did well to mop up ahead of the Villa midfielder a few minutes later as Everton comfortably kept Emery’s outfit at bay, often keeping them hemmed into their own half for long passages of play.

The would restrict Villa to zero shots on target in the first half while dominating the chances at the other end, first when Garner’s ambitious effort that flew wide from distance and then when Danjuma fired goalwards and saw his shot deflect off Ezri Konsa to Olsen seven minutes before the break.

The Toffees could and probably should have gone into half-time two goals to the good but Villa benefitted from a huge slice of luck and then some profligate finishing from Calvert-Lewin.

In the first instance, Danjuma had pressured Konsa into giving the ball away near his own goalmouth, had his shot blocked by Pau Torres and it ended with John McGinn hacking wildly at it as it flew across the six-yard box and Olsen had to turn it onto the post.

Seconds later, brilliant work on the flank from Harrison saw him release Calvert-Lewin with a lovely defence-splitting ball but Olsen was equal to the initial shot shot from the striker who could only put the rebound from a tight angle into the side-netting.

After Everton had gone close from a corner early in the second period, Calvert-Lewin would make no mistake when handed another gilt-edge chance to extend the lead. Tielemans sold Konsa horribly short with an attempted pass in the centre-circle and Calvert-Lewin stole it, sprinting away with just the keeper to beat which he did with aplomb.

The home side were almost back in the tie straight away when Tielemans played Diaby in behind the Blues’ defence but Jordan Pickford made a smart save with his right foot to divert the shot safety while, back down the other end, Onana raked a shot just over from 25 yards and Olsen did well to parry away Calvert-Lewin’s drive after the striker had again been freed into space in Villa’s half by Danjuma.

A flurry of changes by both managers disrupted the flow of the contest somewhat and Everton began to get a little less diligent with their retention of the ball but it wasn’t until the 82nd minute that Emery’s men tried to threaten Pickford’s goal again.

Matty Cash blazed wide from wide on the Villa right but a minute later after a corner was only cleared as far as substitute Boubacary Kamara, the midfielder despatched a low shot through a forest of legs from outside the area that took a decisive knick off Keane, wrong-footing Pickford and then rolling into the net to make it 2-1.

Beto, on for Calvert-Lewin in a 72nd-minute switch, might have sealed it as he galloped forward but was eventually out-muscled by Konsa but while Villa thought they had come close to forcing penalties with a cleverly-worked free-kick in the 90th minute, Pickford was equal to Diaby’s left-foot strike and beat it away to safety.

Douglas Luiz had one last chance to level in stoppage time but hooked the ball over the bar and Everton successfully saw out the remaining couple of minutes to secure both their second away win in four days but also a place in the next round.

Reader Comments (28)

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David Currie
1 Posted 28/09/2023 at 00:29:54
Great team performance, nice to see Onana have 2 much improved games and hope he can kick on from here.

Garner is a quality player as is Branthwaite and Calvert-Lewin is also quality. Good debut for Harrison; my only concern is Beto as he looks clumsy but early days for him yet playing at this level.

Let's hope DCL stays fit and will be our main striker. Fantastic support yet again.

John Pendleton
2 Posted 28/09/2023 at 00:38:37
Wonderful, balanced report Lyndon. And an undeniable marker set. We can do it.

12:35 am and we're finally on ITV highlights!

What a performance and 4,500 in fine voice too.

Ian Linn
3 Posted 28/09/2023 at 03:31:26
Good couple of games for us.

I'll feel more confident if we beat Luton and Bournemouth in the next couple of league games.

Derek Knox
4 Posted 28/09/2023 at 04:49:11
Great result, almost against the odds, but as I said pre-match, I felt we could do it, and that was based on them putting a weakened side out, which they didn't really either. I felt that we played okay against Fulham and Wolves and lost but the signs of improvement are there.

Let's not get too carried away but I have a good feeling both for us in this Cup which we have never won, and the Premier League (not winning, but ending up in a respectable place) if only we had those deserved 6 points from the first 2 home games!

Niall McIlhone
5 Posted 28/09/2023 at 07:25:16
Good report, thanks Lyndon; as you say, the flurry of changes did alter the flow of the game, which had mostly been evidenced by poor Villa team play and tenacity by Everton in closing down and winning possession.

Burnley next, it won't be easy, but under the lights at Goodison, you would fancy us to prevail if we maintain our form and if confidence levels remain high.

Derek Thomas
6 Posted 28/09/2023 at 07:56:05
Another great performance!

Don't let it go to your heads and start thinking... "It's only Luton – at Goodison – a piece of piss", because Luton will have noticed our 2 wins and have their own script.

There are no easy games and Luton aren't going to roll over… unless we actually make them!!!

Robert Tressell
7 Posted 28/09/2023 at 08:27:33
Really good write-up, Lyndon. I am optimistic that we're starting to see what a Dyche side looks like. Good defensive shape (whether back 4 or back 3/5), hard work, decent attacking interplay in the final 3rd and committing numbers to attacks.

There will be plenty of bumps in the road, of course, because we have thin squad and quite a few limited players still.

But it's a pleasure watching some of the more talented players impose themselves on a game and if they keep working hard then we should see more of that. I thought Harrison looked like he will fit right in to this set-up.

As Derek # 6 rightly says, we need to keep working really hard and keep earning these points / wins – and not thinking we're going to brush aside the likes of Luton. I doubt Dyche will be complacent about any of this though.

David West
8 Posted 28/09/2023 at 08:54:53
The sub header say it all. A bench mark for how we should play. I see an identity coming through. A style that suits the players. It won't always work as well as the first 60 minutes but it gives us a chance to win games, score goals and play our football 40 yards further up the pitch.

The press was impressive, especially first half. Let the centre-backs and keeper have the ball and, as soon as it goes to the full-back or midfield, press quickly and in packs. Villa couldn't handle it.

Man City and a few others will play through that, but Villa have impressed many this season and we made them look very average.

Big shout for James Garner (who's not a winger, Lyndon); he ran the game for us, I thought, in the middle. Branthwaite just looks like a Rolls-Royce gliding through games.

Let's hope we can keep up the energy of the last two games for the next two and things will seem so much better.

Duncan McDine
9 Posted 28/09/2023 at 09:22:48
Quick question to anyone that saw the game on TV... when Beto was put through and flagged offside, did the replay show that he was definitely off?

Obviously no VAR at this stage of the cup, and no way of seeing from my seat, but it must have been close. None of the highlights show the moment.

Brian Harrison
10 Posted 28/09/2023 at 09:24:27
I have to say that the stream I watched the game on kept buffering so I didn't see anywhere near the whole game. But what I did see was a team in a completely different approach to the Arsenal game.

Just like the Brentford game, we were on the front foot from the first minute and the intensity that we played with was completely different from the Arsenal game.

I know Dyche had said we need to change the story about Everton, I think he means start winning and get away from yet another relegation battle. I don't know whether it's the players who have wanted to change our style over the last two games or it's the manager and his coaches who have changed our style and, to be honest, I don't care as long as this becomes the template for future games.

I have been a big critic of Onana but yesterday for me that was his best game in a blue shirt, the ball through to Garner to score was brilliant both in pace and execution of the pass. He also looked more positive in what he did before being subbed. While one swallow doesn't make a summer, he needs to keep that level of intensity for the whole game and not just in flashes as he has previously shown.

I thought James Garner was Man of the Match – his goal and his all round play were excellent and I don't know who Dyche would leave out but he has to be the first name on the team sheet in the centre of midfield going forward.

Also, I have to mention Calvert-Lewin who is looking like he is back to the sort of form I haven't seen since Ancelotti was in charge, and fair play to Dyche in making sure he was right physically and mentally before gradually bringing him back into the side.

I thought everybody in a blue shirt played well with no exceptions and the confidence they will have gained in not only winning, which on paper looked like two tough away games, the 5 goals they scored in these two matches will boost the confidence enormously.

Finally, it wouldn't be right to finish without heaping praise on the best away supporters in the land again – sold out the away end and, other than for the last 7 or 8 minutes, it sounded more like Goodison Park than Villa Park, and don't those amazing fans deserve those last two away performances.

Peter Mills
11 Posted 28/09/2023 at 09:31:03
Duncan#9 - my immediate thought was that Beto was offside, but I was moaning that the referee should have let play continue and allow VAR to intervene if necessary. I had forgotten It wasn’t in use!
Dave Abrahams
12 Posted 28/09/2023 at 09:40:33
I only caught the last twenty odd minutes, the stream I was using finally came alive, and the team looked confidant and playing well together not rushing into stupid passing, Onana was holding the ball and looked to be playing his part in the team game and if Brian (10) said he had a good game then I’ll take it that he did.

On to Saturday and Luton, if we keep up the present form then we should get another three points but no relaxing.

Matt Hayhurst
13 Posted 28/09/2023 at 09:46:47
For the last 10 years there has only been one player I have liked - Coleman. Words can't describe what a legend he is.

But now, finally I have 2 more.

James Garner: This lad has got everything. He is full of energy, he can pass, shoot and is versatile. He has such quick feet that not only can he jockey but he can actually tackle and win the ball for us. I thought he was absolutely outstanding in the first half yesterday.

Branthwaite: Absolute class. A Rolls Royce. He also has all the physical attributes required. What a player he is going to become.

I thought it was an outstanding performance last night and it is fascinating to see what looks like it may be a good team being built bit by bit.

I enjoyed watching Everton last night - there I said it!

Christopher Timmins
14 Posted 28/09/2023 at 09:52:58
Another positive step in the right direction. Let's put another good performance in on Saturday and let the result take care of itself.

Charles Brewer
15 Posted 28/09/2023 at 10:01:24
A far, far better display than we've seen all season (or indeed, since Carlo left).

Just to put a damper on matters there were a couple of things which bothered me.

1. But for two world class saves from Pickford, Villa won 3-2. The defence really needs to stay awake and shut down shooting opportunities much better.
2. Having discovered that Villa had no response to pressing and harrying reverting to the "11 men in the penalty area" defence failed spectacularly as usual. What was doubly annoying was that when pressing was resumed in the last few minutes, Villa were again rendered confused, impotent and harmless. Why change something which worked for something which clearly didnt.
3. Villa got about two decent chances in the whole game, Pickford saved both with first class saves (the goal wasn't a real chance it was a poor shot which deflected), Everton had numerous chances which they completely fluffed. It's one thing for a snap shot under pressure to miss the goal, but no professional footballer, who is under no pressure, should miss the goal from any range by more than a few centimeters. Our shooting has got to improve or the 'single chance in the game' against the RS, ManCity, Arsenal etc is not going to win us games.

Bob Parrington
16 Posted 28/09/2023 at 10:02:39
Oh Boy(s) and Gal(s), this has been simmering since game one this season. Great result. Now for the big early test and beat Luton and Bournemouth convincingly! We are looking like a different team to last season. Big and strong and committed!
Stu Darlington
17 Posted 28/09/2023 at 10:04:07
If we keep playing like we have in the last two games consistently we won’t get involved in a relegation dogfight this season.The operative word is of course consistently!
As a number of posters have already said,the signs are there if we play players in the right positions and with the right game plan we can give most teams in the division problems.
One thing we mustn’t do is underestimate teams.We’ve got to play all out against all teams particularly those around us or it could come back to bite us on the bum.
Winning breeds confidence,but we need to stay injury free with our paper thin squad,and hope the powers that be are already planning replacements for the number of players who will be leaving at the end of the season
David West
18 Posted 28/09/2023 at 11:01:49
I belive the squad is getting a bit stronger now with players coming back.

Beto, gana, mcneil, dacoure & young coming off the bench, even though the subs affected the performance chages often do.

Add to that Chermiti, Coleman & Dele if he gets himself straight it's stronger than the last 3 years by quite a bit.

Injuries and just integrating new players have stunted our start to the season. This is the reason I was willing to give dyche time.

The next 2 games give us a real insight into how the season will go and how he will approach the majority of matches, they are vital for us and in my opinion Dyche.

Win them, and he buys time, builds confidence, winning momentum and gets the sceptical fans to believe in his methods more.

Mike Allison
19 Posted 28/09/2023 at 11:24:26
We’ve got a clear blueprint for games that we’re not expected to win. That has always been Dyche’s strength.

The big question now is can Dyche set the team up to dominate in home games that we’re expected to win? For years under Moyes, and then under Koeman and even Allardyce, when the equivalents of Luton and Bournemouth came to Goodison we could be confident of a routine 2-0 win. Our only problem back then was complaining about entertainment or wanting a bigger score line.

We need to get back to that concept of the ’routine’ home win, because at the moment we’re a team where anyone fancies their chances of coming and nicking the points.

Ray Jacques
20 Posted 28/09/2023 at 13:45:26
Garner must play in the centre. Not only is he our best footballer, I think he helps Onana's performance.

Dont think Dyche will play two up front, but as long as we have either DCL or Beto present and get Doucoure further up ther pitch then I am ok with this. O Neill and AN Other on the other side and drop Gana Gueye.

Use Gana Gueye to come on after an hour for a wide man if we are winning and looking to shore up.

We must not have Onana and Gana Gueye as the central midfield pairing.

Lyndon Lloyd
21 Posted 28/09/2023 at 14:26:37
Duncan (9), they only showed the replay once and it looked very close and he could well have been onside when the ball was played. I did find myself thinking that the one time VAR isn't in use was one time where I wished it had been, and I'm no fan of it.

If they would widen the margin for error in how they draw the lines to eliminate the hair's-breadth decisions, VAR would actually be welcome for offside decisions.

Barry Hesketh
22 Posted 28/09/2023 at 14:46:50
Lyndon @21
I've said this before, but why not use the diameter of the ball to ascertain offside when VAR comes into play, for tight decisions i.e. If the distance between the attacker and the last defender is equal or less than the diameter of the ball, call=onside, if it's greater then call=offside. It wouldn't have mattered last night without VAR, but it would save those ridiculous toe-nail, eye-brow decisions being made, when VAR is called upon.

John Raftery
23 Posted 28/09/2023 at 15:50:40
I thought the referee Harrington, VAR free, had a very good night. And what a joy it was to see the ball hit the net, take one glance at the linesman to check he had not raised his flag and then celebrate the way we used to enjoy goals before VAR spoiled everything. Stuff VAR! It’s crap!
Jay Harris
24 Posted 28/09/2023 at 16:16:56
Last night reminded me of the 80's with a performance and result to cherish and those well deserving away fans able to celebrate something and enjoy the journey home.

As some have said we need to build on this consistently now and get the old "Everton" swagger back.

Barry Cowling
25 Posted 28/09/2023 at 16:26:42
I thought Beto was on but it was tight, I thought VAR was all about clear and obvious, if you cant make the decision in 3 seconds then go with referee decision, not go over it 10 times. I thought Harrison looked a really good player, didnt look like someone who has been out injured for a while, at least 3 times I saw him in space in between two of their defenders on the back line, screaming to be put through, excellent on the ball and with an eye for a goal. Onana did really well again, 2 games on the bounce, thats a first, Branthwaite looks like a 50m player if he carries on and DCL looked back to his old self, winning breeds confidence and we looked a threat going forward, but, Villa were error strewn so made it easier and we should of finished them off a lot earlier
Shane Corcoran
26 Posted 28/09/2023 at 17:05:34
Barry, clear and obvious doesn’t apply to offside. They’re the one part of VAR that’s very exact.
Duncan McDine
27 Posted 28/09/2023 at 17:09:55
Thanks Lyndon, I felt that it was close, and had he gone through to score it would've put the game to bed.

They actually showed a replay of the offside on the big screens, but by the time I'd thought to look up, I'd missed it!

Barry (22) - that sounds sensible. I think they'll eventually tweak VAR so that it's more palatable to fans and less disruptive to the flow of the game.

Adam Oakensworth
28 Posted 28/09/2023 at 20:26:48
The first time in a very long time that I can remember our midfield bossing a game. Garner and Onana were both excellent, dropping a shoulder to find space, carrying the ball forward, passing progressively not just sideways… They have to be first choice now with Dacouré ahead of them. Gana came on and promptly gave the ball away in a dangerous position as he seems to do far too often these days. Beto looked out of his depth but its early days so hopefully he’ll improve

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