Strong Final 10 Minutes not Enough to save Toothless Toffees at Villa Park
Everton travelled to Villa Park on Saturday afternoon for the second match of the Premier League campaign against Aston Villa. The match saw the introduction of new signing Conor Coady into the starting XI for his Everton debut, and saw another new signing in midfielder Amadou Onana start the game from the bench.
The match started brightly for Villa with Everton pinned into their own half early on. The blues nearly went behind two minutes in when defender Diego Carlos got his head on a corner and sent it just over the crossbar of Jordan Pickford. The 22nd minute saw the first real opportunity for Everton, as McNeil got onto a pass and sprinted toward the Villa box. He had Demari Gray who had split two defenders barreling down on goal, but the pass was a touch to strong and all Gray could do was win a corner. It looked like Anthony Gordon had scored off the corner after Tarkowski headed down and Gordon bundled home, but the flag went up for offside.
Aston Villa would open the scoring in the 31st minute, as Danny Ings would get onto a cross at the top of the box, compose his dribble and fire home past Jordan Pickford to make it 1-0. Minutes later it would go from bad to worse as Doucoure came off in the 35th minute with an injury and was replaced by Tom Davies. Right on the stroke of halftime Everton would have a huge penalty shout via a corner, as it looked like Holgate had clearly been infringed upon. After a brief VAR review there was no penalty given and the halftime score would stay 1-0 Aston Villa.
Everton started the half well via great play from the backline. Nathan Patterson popped up early making an impressive run past Lucas Digne to win a free kick, and Conor Coady playing a fantastic long ball to get the move started. In the 51st minute Everton would nearly level as Tarkowski headed down a cross from McNeil, but his looping effort went wide. Demari Gray would get a shot on target moments later as it looked like Everton were surely going to nab an equalizer, but his effort was saved.
Rondon would come on for McNeil in the 64th minute to attempt to provide a sorely needed focal point up top, in place of the struggling McNeil. In the 75th minute Mykolenko would deny Aston Villa a sure goal as he cleared Buendia’s strike off the line following a punch out from Jordan Pickford.
Everton would make a double substitution in the 81st minute, as Dele Alli would come on for Conor Coady and Amadou Onana would make his Everton debut replacing Gray. Moments later, Villa would find their second goal. Onana was stripped of possession in the midfield and Villa broke quickly with a 1-2 between Watkins and Buendia, with Buendia tapping home to make it 2-0.
Onana would immediately make up for his possession loss moments later, getting the ball at the top of the box and sprinting past defenders to the byline. He would put in a wonderful cross that was steered home by Lucas Digne to make it 2-1 off the own goal. The 91st minute of stoppage time saw Everton go so close to equalizing, as Anthony Gordon raced in behind and firing at goal. His effort was saved and Rondon was nearly there to tap in the rebound to level.
After several prolonged minutes of Villa time wasting Onana would nearly score once again the 95th minute, with the bouldering midfielder just a fraction to late to the loose ball. Despite all the good late pressure and chance creation from Everton, the blues would drop the match and succumb to two losses from two games to start the campaign.
The back three of Coady, Tarkowski and Holgate looked strong and dependable throughout the match, and will most certainly be a positive talking point. The blues lack of a striker up top really affected the ability to hold possession and bring long balls down, with that end of the pitch improving vastly once Rondon was introduced. Onana looked superb in his debut, despite his error, and should prove to play a huge part for Everton this season. Everton will look to bounce back at home against Nottingham Forrest next weekend.