Lukaku, Osman see Everton past Villa


The battle of the Belgian strikers went to Romelu Lukaku, as Everton won away for just the second time in 12 league games.

Christian Benteke returned to the starting lineup for Villa after recovering from a hip injury that restricted him to a substitute appearance last time out.

The Belgian international could, and should, have opened the scoring with less than 10 minutes on the clock. Having been fouled inside the area by Seamus Coleman, Benteke picked him up to take the spot kick, only to see his effort brilliantly saved by Tim Howard, diving to his right to push the penalty over the bar.

American goalkeepers denying Belgian strikers was to become a theme of a scoreless first half. Howard once again thwarted Benteke, this time making a fine one-on-one stop. His counterpart Brad Guzan was also tested on several occasions, pulling off a fine point-blank save from a Romelu Lukaku header, before seeing Ross Barkley’s long range effort cannon off the cross bar.

Despite the pressure, it was scoreless at the break, though Aston Villa’s defence saw Antonio Luna withdrawn because of injury just before the end of the first half, replaced by Cieran Clark

Moving into the second period, the end to end action continued, with an early Everton corner headed over by Lukaku, and Barkley shooting high and wide when there were better options available to him.

For the first 15 minutes of the second period both teams had attempts on goal, but neither keeper was tested. Andreas Weimann fired wide and Fabien Delph saw his shot deflected wide, but Villa couldn’t capitalise from the corner.

In front of watching England manager Roy Hodgson, Barkley was withdrawn just before the hour mark, replaced by fellow England hopeful Leon Osman. Not long later Everton could have been down to ten men with James McCarthy booked for a wild challenge on Ashley Westwood when a red card could have been produced.

The deadlock was finally broken by Lukaku after 68 minutes. Excellent interplay down the Everton left and a well placed pass from Osman gave Lukaku space on the edge of the Villa area, and his first time strike curled past the right hand of Brad Guzan.

Mere moments later Everton were on the attack again, and could well have had a penalty of their own. A long ball to Lukaku bounced up and struck the defender’s arm but nothing was given.

Villa stepped up their game after falling behind, with Weimann leading the charge. The Austrian shot wide of goal before setting up Gabby Agbonlahor, in the middle of the penalty area, but his shot was hit straight at Tim Howard.

Danish forward Nicklaus Helenius was introduced for Aleksander Tonev after 75 minutes, giving Villa another tall, powerful forward option.

Having been involved in the build up to the first Everton goal, Osman scored their second after 80 minutes. Seconds after Pienaar was withdrawn for Naismith at an Everton corner, a short passing routine saw Gareth Barry cut the ball back to Osman on the edge of the area, and his finish mirrored that of Lukaku, low past Guzan’s right hand.

Naismith could have added a third three minutes later, his shot creeping just wide of Guzan’s right hand post – the same target as the two goals.

The second goal had taken much of the sting out of the game though, as Everton were able to keep their first clean sheet against Villa in 18 Premier League games.

For more conversation on Premier League clubs follow us on Twitter @Hooligans_FS and Like us on Facebook We Are Hooligans.