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Match report: Villa 1-3 Everton

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Match report: Villa 1-3 Everton

By Rob Bishop at Villa Park

Karim El Ahmadi scored Villa's first Barclays Premier League goal of the season but it was too late to prevent defeat at the hands of Everton.

A catastrophic first half saw Paul Lambert's men go three-down by half-time to goals from Steven Pienaar, Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic as the home side struggled to find any rhythm.

To add to their woes, the home side had Ciaran Clark sent off in the 58th minute for bringing down Jelavic when the Croatian striker was in a scoring position.

Despite being down to 10 men, though, Villa reduced the deficit through El Ahmadi on 74 minutes, and sub Andreas Weimann nearly grabbed a second near the end with a low shot which hit the post.

Villa kicked off with three changes to the line-up from the starting side at West Ham.

Chris Herd, Barry Bannan and Nathan Delfouneso were brought into the team, with Fabian Delph, Stephen Ireland and new Brett Holman dropping to the subs bench.

There was a tremendous air of anticipation as the claret and blue faithful gave Lambert a standing ovation before kick-off, although the mood quickly became more sombre when the visitors grabbed a third-minute lead.

A neat build-up down the left ended with the ball being rolled into the path of Pienaar, and the South African put his foot on it before sending a perfectly-struck shot curling past Shay Given from the corner of the penalty area.

Jelavic also went close with a header which just cleared the bar before Delfouneso posed Villa's first threat with a menacing left-wing cross which had Tim Howard and Sylvain Distin in two minds before the keeper punched clear.

But after Darron Gibson had volleyed just over from 30 yards, Everton increased their lead just past the half hour mark. Fellaini met Phil Jagielka's right-wing centre with a downward header which Given appeared to have covered, only for the ball to slip from the keeper's grasp and over the line.

It got worse two minutes before the interval, Jelavic thumping home left-footed from eight yards after Leighton Baines had crossed low from the left.

Bannan's low shot was saved by Howard in first half stoppage time, but soon after the resumption Villa were grateful to Nathan Baker for a crucial block which diverted Jelavic's low drive for a corner.

The young left-back did even better with a superbly-timed sliding tackle when Steven Naismith looked a certain scorer.

But at least Villa were now looking more competitive, with Bannan having two shots charged down on the edge of the penalty area in quick succession.

Clark's dismissal, sadly, ended any slender hope of a comeback and after Given had done well to push away Pienaar's stinging drive, Distin's header from the resultant corner hit the underside of the bar.

But just as home supporters had started to give up hope of seeing a Villa goal, El Ahmadi finally gave them something to cheer.

After the visitors had cleared Charles N'Zogbia's dangerous low cross from the left, the Morocco international exchanged passes with substitute Eric Lichaj before unleashing a powerful 30-yarder which the diving Howard could only help into the net.

A minute from the end, Holman's superb pass set up Weimann for a low shot which beat Howard but struck the foot of a post.Darren Bent's follow-up shot deflected for a corner.

Villa: Given; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker; Herd (Lichaj, 59), El Ahmadi, Bannan (Weimann, 70), N'Zogbia;Delfouneso (Holman, HT), Bent. Unused subs: Guzan, Ireland, Delph, Burke.

Everton: Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Naismith (Coleman, 64), Gibson (Mirallas, 71), Osman, Pienaar;Jelavic (Heitinga, 87), Fellaini. Unused subs: Mucha, Gueye, Barkley, Anichebe.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 25th August 2012
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