A brace from Christian Benteke and a goal from Tom Cleverley were enough to stave off a late comeback and give Aston Villa a vital 3-2 win over a inform Everton.
Benteke missed a golden opportunity eight minutes in before giving Villa the lead two minutes later, Charles N’Zogbia and Ron Vlaar both had golden opportunities but couldn’t double Villa’s lead but Benteke managed it on the stroke of half-time.
Romelu Lukaku had a great chance early in the second half before he slotted home a penalty just before the hour mark but Cleverley restored their two goal lead in the 64th minute, Phil Jagielka scored a late header in the 92nd minute but Villa had done enough for the three points.
Aston Villa were in desperate need of points going into this match sitting just two points above the relegation zone but were coming up against an Everton side that were the inform side in the division winning five and drawing one in their last six matches.
It was Tim Sherwood’s side who started the brightest however with Benteke coming close in the eighth minute when he rose highest to get his head onto a corner but he didn’t quite get the right connection and it went wide.
Two minutes later however Benteke gave the hosts the lead, a good early ball in from Fabian Delph and the Belgian rose above Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines to head into bottom corner and get his 12th goal in 11 games.
N’Zogbia tested Howard in the 15th minute when his free kick from 35 yards could only palmed away by the American goalkeeper. Vlaar should have doubled his sides lead in the 28th minute when he rose well to get his head to Jack Grealish’s corner but his header was off target.
On the stroke of half-time Villa doubled their lead thanks to some appalling defending from Roberto Martinez’s side, Grealish’s header was flicked on by a free Vlaar which found an unmarked Benteke at the back post who slotted home with ease.
Everton had their first opportunity of the match a minute after the restart when Lukaku when on a mazy run from his own half towards goal, the space opened up for the Belgian and Shay Given managed to get the slightest touch on it to take it wide.
Everton were handed a lifeline in the 58th minute when Mark Clattenburg pointed to the spot for a penalty, Lukaku went on another dangerous run giving the ball to Steven Naismith who was brought down by Vlaar. Lukaku stepped up and coolly slotted it into the bottom left hand corner.
Villa restored their two goal lead five minutes later, an excellent ball from Leandro Bacuna which split the Everton defence and Cleverley made an excellent run to get on the end of the pass and proceeded to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
Barry had a good chance in the 66th minute when the ball lined up well for the volley but it was straight at Given who gathered with ease.
Everton made it a nervy finish for Sherwood’s side when they clawed back a second goal in injury time. Jagielka headed a corner into the air which Given tipped onto the bar but the defender was there to head into the net courtesy of the crossbar. There were strong protests that Seamus Coleman pushed the goalkeeper in the process but the goal stood.
This was an excellent performance from Aston Villa with practically every player on the field putting in a stellar performance, this win has moved them five points above the drop zone but Sherwood will know the job is far from done with crucial games against; West Ham, Southampton and Burnley still to come.
Martinez will be extremely disappointed with his players performance’s as all apart from Lukaku failed to performance to a standard that has been expected especially after the run that have previously been on. Unlike their opponents there is no danger whatsoever of Everton going down and focus on finishing as high as possible in their last three games against; Sunderland, West Ham and Tottenham.