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Following Everton’s disappointing and ‘unacceptable’ performance at Wolves on Sunday, Carlo Ancelotti would have been hoping for more of a response than he got against an Aston Villa side with the threat of relegation hanging over them. Villa arrived for this must-win game for them in the bid to avoid relegation, fresh from a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at the weekend.

The game began at a decent pace with both sides showing early intent. Dominic Calvert-Lewin fired over with a scissor kick after just 45 seconds whilst Mbwana Samatta headed over the bar for Villa inside the opening exchanges.

Everton lost the returning Mason Holgate after 15 minutes with a recurrence of the shin injury that had kept him out of the previous two matches. His replacement was 18-year-old defender Jarrad Branthwaite who turned in a very professional display on his home debut.

From an attacking perspective neither team really got going in the first half, although Everton did hit the bar from a Bernard cross after good play between him and Lucas Digne had created space for the Brazilian.

The second half started brighter for the visitors and the dangerous Jack Grealish fired a shot into Jordan Pickford’s side netting and John McGinn fired over the bar as the visitors pounced on Everton’s lethargy.

The hosts were sitting deeper and deeper and this forced Blues boss Ancelotti into a double change bringing on Theo Walcott and Anthony Gordon for Bernard and the very quiet Alex Iwobi.

However, soon afterwards the visitors took the lead.

Conor Hourihane curled in a delicious free-kick, earned after a foul by André Gomes, from the right flank in behind the Everton defence and Ezri Konsa applied the finishing touch. The Villa defender netted his first-ever Premier League goal by diverting the ball past Pickford with an outstretched foot.

Everton responded by bringing on Gylfi Sigurdsson and pushing Gomes further up the pitch and it was from then on that the Portuguese midfielder started to assert some control on the game.

However, Villa should have killed the game off in the 79th minute when Anwar El Ghazi spurned a golden opportunity to wrap the points up for the visitors. Grealish created space on the left-hand side of the penalty area and put in a perfect cross that El Ghazi somehow volleyed high and wide when only two yards from goal.

Everton sensed their chance to capitalise and should have been level after good work from Gomes created a great chance for Calvert-Lewin. Gomes’ cross found the young striker on the six-yard box but his left foot finish flashed wide of Pepe Reina’s post. It was a left off for Villa but they did not heed the warning.

With just three minutes to go Gomes found himself in space on the left flank and he put over a brilliant cross deep into the Villa penalty area. Substitute Theo Walcott sent a header back over Reina in the Villa goal and Konsa’s attempted clearance couldn’t prevent the ball going over the line despite Reina collecting it. All the focus went to referee Anthony Taylor. His watch buzzed and Everton celebrated but it was heartache for Villa and a crushing blow in their fight for survival.

Final Score: Everton 1-1 Aston Villa

How They Lined Up: 

Barry Cass