Everton holds Aston Villa to 1-1 away draw

Aston Villa had to settle for a 1-1 draw at home to Everton in

the Premier League on Saturday after letting slip a second-half

lead.

Both sides had early chances, but the real action did not start

until after the break. Villa striker Darren Bent was picked out by

midfielder Stephen Ireland to bundle home the opener in the 56th

minute, though the lead only lasted 13 minutes.

United States forward Landon Donovan, who is on loan from the

Los Angeles Galaxy, played a perfect through-ball for substitute

Victor Anichebe to level past Everton’s American keeper Tim

Howard.

The positives for Villa were an end to a run of four home

defeats and an inspired performance from recalled keeper Shay

Given, who had been sidelined for six weeks with a hamstring

injury. For Everton, the high points were David Moyes’ decision to

send on Anichebe and Donovan’s impressive performance on the right

of midfield.

Villa was the first to threaten after Bent made a probing run

toward the Everton box and was brought down by John Heitinga. Villa

skipper Stiliyan Petrov’s 25-yard (meter) free kick contained

plenty of power and was fisted away by the diving Howard.

Everton came more into the game and new signing Darron Gibson’s

flighted pass picked out a run into the Villa area from Tim Cahill

but the Australian midfielder’s first touch let him down. Given

then made an excellent save away to his left to keep out a glancing

header by Louis Saha from Leighton Baines’s free kick.

Everton appealed in vain for a penalty after defender Alan

Hutton appeared to pull back Saha as he attacked a center from

Donovan. However, Villa finished the first half strongly and Bent

headed over from a center by Stephen Warnock and Howard had to

parry a curling effort from Gabriel Agbonlahor around the post.

Given made his third fine save of the game at the start of the

second period after James Collins brought down Royston Drenthe.

Baines sent in a curling free-kick that found Marouane Fellaini

unmarked at the far post and his powerful header was blocked by the

Republic of Ireland keeper.

At the other end, Howard parried a shot over his shoulder from

Bent before the Villa striker finally broke the deadlock after 56

minutes.

Marc Albrighton’s cross was only half cleared and Ireland poked

the ball across the box for Bent to net his seventh goal of the

campaign.

Moyes responded by bringing on striker Anichebe in place of

midfielder Drenthe after 61 minutes and the newcomer needed only

eight minutes to find the net. Donovan supplied the telling pass

and Anichebe kept his cool to slip the ball past Given.