Feb 1, 2014, 12:04 PM EDT
Everton went into the break having learned, once again, that having the lion’s share of possession doesn’t automatically mean you’re destined to have the lead. Despite having 70% possession at the break, it was the visitors that were up, 1-0.
The hosts’ best chance came early on, when new boy Aiden McGeady tried his luck from distance. Aston Villa were saved by the post, however, with the winger smacking his shot against the upright.
In the 34th minute, Villa launched one of their counter-attacks, a tactic Paul Lambert has slowly been refining in this season’s squad. Fabian Delph‘s tackle stole the ball from Ross Barkley, who turned his attention toward calling a foul rather than winning back possession. Instead Christian Benteke took control, holding off the Everton defense. The Belgian played in Leandro Bacuna, who nutmegged Tim Howard to score his second goal in as many matches.
After the restart, it looked as though nothing much had changed for Roberto Martinez‘s men – save for switching out Barkley for Steven Pienaar, that is. The hosts continued to maintain possession, but failed to provide much to bother Brad Guzan.
But, with 15 minutes left to play, Everton managed to turn it around. Steven Naismith, on for John Stones in the 70th minute, got on the end of a little flick from Pienaar. His shot flew past Guzan and into the bottom corner of the net.
Lambert made a bold move a few minutes later, pulling center back Ron Vlaar in favor of Marc Albrighton, hoping that the winger’s pace could inject further life into the Villa attack. Instead, it just made their defense more vulnerable.
In the 85th minute, Ciaran Clark fouled Kevin Mirallas in a dangerous position – exactly the sort of thing you don’t want to do against Everton. Mirallas took the kick himself, waving away Leighton Baines, and sent a lovely curler into the top corner of the net. It was enough to secure all three points for the Toffees.
Everton: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, McGeady (Hibbert 87), Mirallas, Distin, McCarthy, Barry, Barkley (Pienaar 45), Osman, Stones (Naismith 74)
Goals: Naismith 74′; Mirallas 85′
Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar (Albrighton 80), Clark, Baker, Bertrand, Westwood, Delph, Weimann (Tonev 87), Benteke, Holt (El Ahmadi 61)
Goals: Bacuna 34′
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