Match report: Villa 1-0 Everton
Luke Young's early strike resorted the feel-good factor around Villa Park and gave Kevin MacDonald his second victory in three Barclays Premier League games.
The full-back scored his second goal for the club before playing his part in a heroic defensive display, as Villa put back-to-back defeats against Newcastle and Rapid Vienna behind them.
As well as bagging a maximum haul against one of the top-flight's strongest sides, caretaker boss MacDonald will have been delighted with the clean sheet after the claret and blues shipped nine goals in the previous two matches.
The 191st instalment of English league football's most played fixture had a lot to live up to, given the excitement and intensity of recent clashes between these two sides.
But it didn't disappoint, with breathless passages of end-to-end football throughout.
MacDonald called for a response after two devastating defeats in the past seven days, and it came almost instantly with Luke Young surging on to the end of Ashley Young's through ball before intelligently lofting his shot over Tim Howard to put Villa ahead.
It brought an immediate buoyancy to Villa Park and stood the hosts in good stead for the defensive examination that followed.
Everton arrived with their usual array of attacking stars including tenacious Aussie Tim Cahill, Belgian powerhouse Marouane Fellaini and new signing Jermaine Beckford.
With dependable defensive duo James Collins and Richard Dunne reunited in central defence for the first time this season, Villa were forced to keep the Toffees at bay in the first period.
South African midfielder Steven Pienaar rattled the goal frame when he shot from an angle on 19 minutes, but that aside, Villa remained resilient and composed.
Leighton Baines enjoyed a couple of early surges down the left hand side.
Firstly, Collins raced across to stop the full-back in his tracks, while on the second occasion Fellaini, under pressure from two Villa defenders, couldn't connect strongly with his header.
However, the hosts enjoyed bright spells of their own.
Nigel Reo-Coker, drafted into the line-up after Stephen Ireland injured his hamstring in the warm-up, had a shot cleared from a packed goalmouth, while Marc Albrighton's left-foot attempt from the edge of the box was deflected away from goal by the head of Sylvain Distin.
Villa emerged full of confidence after the break and came close to adding to their slender advantage on several occasions.
Goalkeeper Howard made a stunning double save, firstly keeping out John Carew's shot across goal, before leaping to his feet to block the follow-up from Ashley Young.
Young then cut in from the left-hand side, forcing Howard into another terrific stop. Albrighton pounced but struck the rebound over from close range.
Immediately after Howard's heroics, his compatriot and opposite number Brad Friedel produced an equally brilliant stop, pushing a shot from Louis Saha to safety with one hand.
The Toffees tested Villa's resolve to the limit in the closing stages, with a barrage of corners and set-pieces.
Unfortunately for David Moyes' men, they found Collins and Dunne at their best, heading away everything that came their way.
There were a few claret and blue hearts in mouths in stoppage time when Friedel palmed away another Saha effort, but Villa held on to earn a superb victory.
Go to full match coverage for Aston Villa 1 - 0 Everton (29th August 2010) >
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