Everton 1-1 Aston Villa

Everton drew 1-1 for the third successive home game as John Carew came off the bench to equalise for Aston Villa at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov had opened the scoring for the hosts in first-half stoppage time, but Carew – who replaced Emile Heskey at the break – made it 1-1 within two minutes of the restart.

Both teams finished the match with 10 men after Bilyaletdinov and then Carlos Cuellar were given their marching orders late on by referee Lee Probert.

David Moyes will have been relieved for his players to have put a run of three defeats in three games behind them, but again the Toffees were held at home following the 1-1 draws with Wolves and Stoke.

Moyes made three changes to the first XI that had faced Tottenham in the Carling Cup on Tuesday, with Leighton Baines, Joseph Yobo and Bilyaletdinov all restored to the starting line-up after recovering from injury.

Louis Saha dropped to the bench after picking up a calf problem, as did Dan Gosling, but there was no place in the squad for Tony Hibbert.

Brad Friedel was named in goal for Villa to make his 200th consecutive league appearance after Brad Guzan had deputised at Sunderland in the cup, and Steve Sidwell returned to Martin O’Neill’s midfield in place of Nigel Reo-Coker.

Heskey, who had made his first start since August at the Stadium of Light, retained his starting spot ahead of Carew, and Stephen Warnock was included in the defence despite suffering an ankle injury in the week.

Everton and Villa had matched each other all the way until the final weeks of last season in the race for fifth place in the table and there was little to divide the two teams in the opening stages.

Sidwell wasted the first real opportunity of the game in the fifth minute, misdirecting his header across Tim Howard’s goal after Ashley Young’s cross had picked him out.

Minutes later Ayegbeni Yakubu sent a cross into the Villa box which looked like it might dip under the bar, but the ever-reliable Friedel was on hand to tip it over.

Marouane Fellaini tried a speculative effort from range on the quarter-hour but Friedel made a comfortable catch and at the other end, Heskey was crowded out in the Everton box before he could make meaningful contact with James Collins’ long ball.

Yakubu almost broke the deadlock shortly before the half-hour mark with a looping header from John Heitinga’s lofted pass, but the striker’s momentum put too much on the effort and carried it over the bar.

Fellaini then appeared to go even closer when his header was touched round the post by the boot of Cuellar, but replays showed that the ball had already gone out of play before the reaching the gangly midfielder.

Villa had their best effort of the half soon after when Cuellar headed the ball across the area and Warnock met it with a volley, but his execution was not quite perfect and the defender’s low drive went inches wide.

Then, just as it appeared that it would be honours even at the break, the hosts found a way through.

A minute of first-half stoppage time had elapsed when Tim Cahill’s cross hit Yakubu in the box and fell right in front of the arriving Bilyaletdinov, who made no mistake in slotting it past Friedel.

The goal got Goodison rocking, but just as it appeared as if Everton might be putting their recent woes behind them, Villa levelled.

Carew was the goalscorer, making an instant impact two minutes after being brought on for Heskey at the interval by firing past Howard when the goalkeeper could only parry a shot by Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Moyes’ team looked rattled and, after Cahill had been booked for a rash challenge on Young, Stiliyan Petrov almost put Villa ahead from distance but his effort was deflected.

With 20 minutes remaining, Saha was introduced for Everton in place of Fellaini to provide some fresh attacking impetus, as both sides went in search of the winner.

Cahill might have sealed it with six minutes left when he met Baines’ cross in the box, but the Australian connected as much with Warnock’s head as he did the ball, and Saha then controlled the ball on the edge of the area but sliced his effort wide.

No further goals were forthcoming, but there was still drama to come with a sending-off for each side.

First Bilyaletdinov was shown a straight red card for a late tackle on Petrov, and only seconds later Cuellar was also dismissed after collecting his second yellow card for clattering into Yakubu.