An injury-stricken Everton side were demolished 3-0 at Aston Villa.
A second half collapse saw Matty Cash and Leon Bailey’s first Villa goals either side of a Lucas Digne own goal as the Toffees endured a miserable evening in the Midlands.
It was always going to be an uphill struggle from before the match even kicked off with Richarlison, Jordan Pickford and Seamus Coleman all ruled out with injury.
Their absences meant a first Everton start for Salomon Rondon, whilst Alex Iwobi and Asmir Begovic were also brought in as the only changes from the side that started Monday’s 3-1 win over Burnley.
It was a relatively even first half with the Bosnian goalkeeper called into action early on as he made a point-blank save from Tyrone Mings’ header.
The Blues also had opportunities as Rondon hit the side netting and was also inches away from diverting the in-form Demarai Gray’s driven cross into the back of Emiliano Martinez’s net.
However, the sides went in at the break with the score goalless.
Everton’s best chance of the game arrived early in the second half as former Birmingham City winger Demarai Gray came close to scoring against his old rivals with a curled effort from the edge of the area that inched just wide of the post.
From the resulting goal kick, Dean Smith’s side took the lead as the right wing back Matty Cash dribbled inside of Lucas Digne and hit a powerful strike into the roof of Begovic’s goal.
With Villa Park suddenly a cauldron of noise, the hosts took control and increased their lead just three minutes after Cash’s opener.
Everton had previously been linked with Villa’s new summer signing Leon Bailey and in cruel fashion, it was his wicked corner which was diverted in via the head of Digne, whose torrid run of form continues.
With limited options on the bench, manager Rafael Benitez had replaced Rondon with Andre Gomes before the Villains went ahead and consequently his side were now almost completely blunt in attack.
Aston Villa weren’t finished either as Danny Ings played a sublime cross-field ball to Bailey, who had been left in acres of space on the left flank by the Toffees’ makeshift right back Ben Godfrey, and the Jamaican made it 3-0 with a fierce strike.
Everton’s unbeaten start to the season had been halted in the most abrupt manner and it is now up to Benitez to pick his players up and ensure this is just a temporary blip.
It will be interesting to see how they respond in their next league match at home to Norwich City on Saturday 25 September but next up is a Tuesday night tie at Loftus Road as they face high-flying Queens Park Rangers in the Carabao Cup Third Round.