Everton bounce back against Villa

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iol spt feb1 Naismith-Everton Getty Images Everton responded to their Merseyside derby drubbing at Liverpool's hands by coming from behind to beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the Premier League. Photo by: Malcolm Couzens Getty Images

Everton responded to their Merseyside derby drubbing at Liverpool's hands by coming from behind to beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday.

Everton were thrashed 4-0 by Liverpool on Tuesday, but a 74th-minute goal from substitute Steven Naismith and a fine Kevin Mirallas free-kick five minutes from time got them back to winning ways at Goodison Park.

Victory took Roberto Martinez's side up to fifth place in the table, a point behind Liverpool, who visit West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, while Villa, who opened the scoring through Leandro Bacuna, remain 10th.

Everton handed Aiden McGeady a first league start following his January move from Spartak Moscow and he almost opened his account for the club in the third minute with a rising 20-yard shot that hit the post.

However, despite enjoying the majority of possession, Everton were unable to make inroads in the Villa defence and in the 34th minute the visitors hit them with a sucker-punch.

After Fabian Delph had won the ball from Ross Barkley, Christian Benteke played in the overlapping Bacuna to slide a low shot between the legs of Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard from a narrow angle.

Everton felt that Delph should have been penalised for his challenge on Barkley and the home side almost fell further behind when Sylvain Distin's back-pass obliged Howard to make a hurried clearance as Benteke closed in.

Martinez introduced Steven Pienaar in place of Barkley at the interval and the home side began to threaten, with Leon Osman dragging a shot across goal and seeing another attempted deflected wide.

Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan had to save from Pienaar, while Benteke came within inches of putting through his own goal when a cross from Leighton Baines struck him in the face and bounced narrowly wide.

Martinez made another change with 20 minutes remaining and it quickly paid dividends, with Naismith running through to finish from Pienaar's flick just four minutes after coming on.

Mirallas completed the comeback with five minutes remaining, whipping a superb 30-yard free-kick into the top-left corner to resurrect Everton's top-four challenge. – AFP


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