Clinical Aston Villa run riot in second half to end Everton's unbeaten start to the season

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·18-min read
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Leon Bailey of Aston Villa scores a goal to make it 3-0 during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Everton at Villa Park.  - James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images
Leon Bailey of Aston Villa scores a goal to make it 3-0 during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Everton at Villa Park. - James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images
  • Villa score three goals in nine minutes in the second half to end Everton's unbeaten start to the season.

  • Matty Cash got the first with a thunderous drive.

  • Own goal by Lucas Digne from Leon Bailey corner, before Bailey completes rout with a belting finish.

Leon Bailey did not need long to send Villa Park into raucous admiration of his feats, as he played a key role in a devastating nine-minute second-half spell that saw three goals conceded by capitulating, patched-up Everton.

Jordan Pickford, Everton’s goalkeeper, had wanted to be here - but, with a shoulder injury, Rafael Benitez decided it would be too big a long-term risk to give the goalkeeper an injection and play him. The England goalkeeper missed a collapse.

In his press meeting afterwards, it was put to the Villa manager, Dean Smith, jokingly that even Pickford would not have stopped Villa - and he laughed “I don’t think so”. Smith, however, said the scoreline flattered his men, although “after we got the first goal, it was all guns blazing”.

It was no wonder Smith was in a jovial mood. On his home debut, Bailey - the Jamaica international, a £25 million summer signing from Bayer Leverkusen - came off the bench to create one goal from a corner, leading to an own goal by troubled Lucas Digne, then he lashed in a goal of his own to cap off a miserable night for Everton, raising questions about their squad depth.

Leon Bailey of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 3-0.  - James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images
Leon Bailey of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 3-0. - James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Bailey eventually had to be subbed off with a quad injury but the warm reception from the home crowd - and as he hobbled over for post-match interviews - told its own story.

“He’s one who is going to be a crowd favourite,” said Dean Smith, Villa manager. “He gets bums off seats and that’s what supporters at this club want to see.”

In the post-Jack Grealish era, it was welcome for those in Villa colours.

Benitez arrived here with a strong record on this turf, having been unbeaten in his last nine away games against them. As the Holte End went into raptures though, the suited Spaniard looked a disgruntled figure, gesticulating unhappily at times.

Under Carlo Ancelotti, Everton had a strong away record to end his tenure - notable for clean sheets - so this was a horrendous outcome for the new manager.

Villa, meanwhile, continued their unbeaten start at home to the Premier League season.

This is the most played fixture in English top-flight history - but it was Villa who rolled back the years to give a memorable display after a tight first half. Benitez, already without Dominic Calvert-Lewin, was tested by injuries, as Pickford, Richarlison and Seamus Coleman all missed out, but could still field a strong-looking starting line-up at least.

Rafael Benitez gives his team instructions. - Michael Steele/Getty Images
Rafael Benitez gives his team instructions. - Michael Steele/Getty Images

Everton brought Asmir Begovic and Salomon Rondon in for their full debuts - while James Rodriguez did was not in the squad, with Benitez naming only eight substitutes and saying the Colombian had fitness concerns. Rodriguez remaining at the club, not being transferred, gives Benitez a decision to make over how to manage him - and his absence here was an eye-catching one. The sprinkling of youth on the bench also laid bare the lack of options.

Smith remarked that Villa wanted to challenge the top clubs and that requires a “top bench”. That is something Everton could maybe take note of. Asked about Everton’s aspirations of the top four in the wake of this, Benitez’s assessment was: “It’s too early. We cannot forget we finished 10th last season, we have a new manager. We need time to improve and work together.”

Rondon had early chances did not take them or look sharp, as Everton - playing with a back four - showed some early initiative.

Tyrone Mings, the home captain, used his head to cause problems - forcing Begovic to agilely tip over a header, then nodding down for Danny Ings, who steered over.

Villa began the second half on the front foot, looking to be more clinical than the first.

Everton, though, caused some scares. Demarai Gray twisted beyond Ezri Konsa - and claimed to have been fouled, only for the referee, Craig Pawson, to ignore his claims, even though the incident was arguably a red card.

Jose Salomon Rondon of Everton shoots under pressure from Axel Tuanzebe. - Michael Steele/Getty Images
Jose Salomon Rondon of Everton shoots under pressure from Axel Tuanzebe. - Michael Steele/Getty Images

A huge chance then went for Gray when he manoeuvred his way into a scoring position but dragged his shot wide.

Villa first punished them after a well-worked team move that ended in Douglas Luiz showing his better qualities as he fed Matty Cash, who cut inside, after evading Digne, and fired in. It was a reminder of why the Poland national set-up are eyeing Cash for selection.

Everton then shot themselves in the feet when Digne headed in from the corner by Bailey, who had only just come on.

The beleaguered visitors looked to be falling apart - the lack of firepower haunting them. The third goal came, when more poor defending was exposed, as Bailey pounced on a diagonal pass from Ings and took cushioning touches before powerfully finishing.

As it happened:

06:43 PM

That's all for today

We'll be back tomorrow as Spurs host Chelsea at 4:30pm.

06:34 PM

Here's Leon Bailey's corner...

06:23 PM


A fantastic second half performance sees Villa get their biggest victory of 2021.

06:21 PM

92 mins

Villa corner. They're looking for a big finish.

It comes back to Traore, but Everton pounce upon him and he's shut out before he can get a shot away.

06:20 PM


Super sub Leon Bailey given man of the match for his 21 minutes on the pitch.

06:15 PM

86 mins SUB

06:15 PM

84 mins

Dangerous Everton ball in from a free kick and Keane goes close. He should have done better there. Villa play a very high defensive line in an effort to catch Everton offside.

06:11 PM

81 mins SUB

Leon Bailey comes off as it looks like he's picked up a knock. Veteran Ashley Young replaces him. He was only on the pitch for 21 minutes, but he made all the difference. Here's his goal:

06:07 PM

78 mins

Villa on the move again and they're looking so full of confidence.

The fans at Villa Park are loving every minute of this.

06:04 PM

74 mins GOAL Aston Villa 3-0 Everton

Leon Bailey!!! He's sent on his way by Ings in open space on the left hand side and he sprints into the box and absolutely lashes it past Begovic.

Villa looking unstoppable now.

06:03 PM

73 mins SUB

06:02 PM

72 mins

The free kick from the Godfrey foul is whipped in by Douglas Luiz and it's just over.

Villa have been relentless since that first goal.

06:01 PM


Booking for Ben Godfrey.

06:00 PM

70 mins

Almost a third there! Ramsey gets a shot away and it's just wide.

05:59 PM

68 mins GOAL Aston Villa 2-0 Everton

A fantastic corner from sub Bailey takes a minor deflection off Digne to make it two. Villa Park erupts!

05:55 PM

65 mins GOAL Aston Villa 1-0 Everton

A devastating finish from Cash. He makes his forward run on the right hand side and gets ahead of his man and after couple of paces smashes it past Begovic off his left foot. That's his first goal for the club.

05:54 PM

64 mins

Gray goes so close! Townsend squares it across in front of the box. Gray is not picked up and he is able to get a low shot on goal, but he pulls it across.

05:52 PM

62 mins SUB

05:50 PM

60 mins SUB

05:49 PM

60 mins

Targett is caught by Godfrey and it's a Villa free kick on the left hand side.

05:48 PM

58 mins

Gray sends Iwobi on his way after a great run across, but Tuanzebe does enough to make the shot too difficult and it comes comfortably to Begovic. More convincing from Everton there.

05:45 PM

55 mins

Townsend rams the free kick straight at the wall. Safely away by Villa and now they come on the attack again.

05:44 PM

54 mins

Late tackle by Mings on Townsend gives Everton a free kick 25 yards out. What can they conjure up here?

05:43 PM

53 mins

Gray on the spin just outside the box, he thinks he's impeded by Konsa, but the referee is having none of it.

05:40 PM

50 mins

Patient build-up play by Villa. It drops to Targett on the left and he surges toward the box but it's safely cleared in the end. A confident first five minutes of the second half for Villa.

05:36 PM

47 mins

Douglas Luiz launches in a cross from the left but it's far too deep for anyone to get there. Out for a goal kick.

05:34 PM

We're back underway at Villa Park

Can someone break the deadlock in the next 45 minutes?

05:33 PM

Ashley Young spotted warming up

Will the veteran make an appearance later on?

05:26 PM

Villa's John McGinn came off as a concussion sub, leaving Everton with four to use in the second half

McGinn receives treament.  - Reuters/Andrew Boyers
McGinn receives treament. - Reuters/Andrew Boyers

05:20 PM

Here's that brilliant save from Begovic

05:18 PM


A brilliant stop by Begovic has kept it level so far.

05:17 PM

45+1 mins

A wasteful cross from Cash after some good work from Ings. Everton throw.

05:16 PM


Can anyone capitalise before half-time?

05:15 PM

43 mins

Townsend drifts in from the right hand side and launches a left-booted shot just outside the box, but it's straight at Martínez. That's Everton's first shot on target.

05:13 PM

40 mins

Doucouré concedes a free kick. Villa lining up at the edge of the penalty area.

It's sent in by Targett but booted out of the box. Villa advance again, but it comes to nothing.

05:10 PM

38 mins SUB

05:09 PM

38 mins

McGinn goes down again and his evening is over.

05:07 PM

35 mins

Gray with a great bit of play to set up an Everton counter. Iwobi goes surging up the left side. His cross is pushed behind for a corner.

05:05 PM

33 mins

McGinn has crack, but it's blocked. It comes back to Cash who shoots on his left, but he pulls it wide. He should've done better there.

05:03 PM

29 mins

A good spell form Everton now. Some strong crosses from the right and left. Digne whips one in and a clash of heads leaves Mings and Targett on the floor.

A brief break for medical attention, but they're both back up now and it's a Martínez goal kick.

04:59 PM

28 mins

Mings launches a Villa counter attack, but he's too quick and is forced to play the long ball to Ings who can't quite control it.

04:58 PM

27 mins

The ball drops to McGinn in the centre and he lets rip, but he can't quite get in onto his instep. Villa looking lively.

04:56 PM

24 mins

Cash gets away from Digne on the right hand side, but he's deemed to have fouled his man. Everton free kick to be taken by Begovic.

04:51 PM

20 mins

McGinn receives medical treatment in the Everton box, looks like he's back on his feet now, and we resume from the Everton throw-in.

04:50 PM

18 mins

Robust challenge on Godfrey just past the halfway line to shut down another Everton counter attack.

04:48 PM

16 mins

Gray almost punishes Villa on the counter-attack . He squares it across to Rondon, but he can't quite get there. End-to-end stuff here at Villa Park!

04:47 PM

15 mins

Chance for Everton down the left hand side, but no-one is there to receive the cross.

Knocked out for an Everton corner. It's crossed to the back by Townsend and Keane sends it marginally wide. That was close!

04:46 PM

13 mins

Villa free kick, squared across into the middle of the pitch before being launched down the right hand side to be whipped into Ings, but he hits over. Good tactical set-piece play.

04:43 PM

12 mins

Villa have had plenty of possession so far, but that's part of Everton's game plan away from home.

The Toffees under Benitez are quite happy to sit back and work hard on the counter attack.

04:42 PM

10 mins

Villa on the attack again. Godfrey gets it out. Throw-in for Villa. Cash with a long throw into the box, but it's straight into the hands of Begovic. Too lofted there.

04:37 PM

6 mins

Corner to Villa, Mings heads it on target at the near post. It is going in but for a sensation right hand from Begovic to keep it out.

04:35 PM

3 mins

First attack of the game from Everton. Townsend with some good work up the right hand side, gets it to Rondon who can't quite get it out quick enough. He earns a corner.

The corner is whipped into the near post, Rondon gets on the end of it but he gets a little bit too much on it and it's over the crossbar.

Everton's Salomon Rondon shoots at goal  - Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Everton's Salomon Rondon shoots at goal - Reuters/Andrew Boyers

04:31 PM

And we're underway at Villa Park

The 207th fixture between these clubs begins!

04:26 PM

The players are on their way out the tunnel now

Five minutes until kick-off!

04:26 PM

Here's what Dean Smith had to say on today's team selection

04:23 PM

All the latest from the earlier games today

Check-out our coverage from the earlier games where Brentford beat Wolves at Molineux and Man City were held to goalless draw by Southampton.

04:20 PM

The players have completed their warm-ups

10 minutes to go until kick-off.

Everton's Andros Townsend during the warm up before the match - REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Everton's Andros Townsend during the warm up before the match - REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings (left) warms up on the pitch ahead of the Premier League match at Villa Park. - Tim Goode/PA Wire
Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings (left) warms up on the pitch ahead of the Premier League match at Villa Park. - Tim Goode/PA Wire

04:09 PM

Richarlison, Pickford and Coleman all missing for Everton today...

03:54 PM

Emi Martinez returns

The goalkeeper is back in the starting 11 and is the only change from the 3-0 defeat at Chelsea last weekend.

He had been training in Croatia to avoid quarantining following international duty with Argentina. International teammate Emi Buendia, who also returned on Saturday morning, is on the bench.

Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa looks on during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Brentford in August. - David Rogers/Getty Images
Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa looks on during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Brentford in August. - David Rogers/Getty Images

03:44 PM

Everton remain unbeaten this season

They come into the game off the back of a 3-1 win over Burnley at Goodison Park on Monday night. Aston Villa suffered a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.

The hosts are unbeaten in four league games against Everton, winning two and drawing two, but they’d only won two of their previous 15 Premier League meetings with the Toffees (D7 L6).

Villa will be looking to replicate the most recent form as they sit on just four points at this early stage in the campaign.

Villa Park.  - Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Villa Park. - Reuters/Andrew Boyers

03:32 PM

Here's how they're lining up this evening at Villa Park

03:27 PM

Team news expected in the next few minutes...

Stay-tuned for the team sheets.

03:22 PM

BENITEZ: "My 'cold' man-manager reputation a myth"

Rafael Benitez has built his reputation on demanding more from stars, with countless examples offered by those whose sterling performances were met with an observation about how they could have been better.

But Benitez has always felt misunderstood.

“I think that perception is wrong,” said Benitez.

“I talk with my players every day about anything. The priority is football but I talk with them all the time. With Richarlison I was talking the other day about the Brazilian Ronaldo, Socrates, Garrincha, even his dogs.

"You try to be sure you understand your players and in this case we talked about Brazilian players, ones he maybe doesn't know as well as ones he does know. I think that's normal for any manager to talk to his players like that.

"The perception is because I am pushing and I want to improve them and sometimes you are not satisfied because you want to see them play a bit better.

"It has to be like that. As a manager you have to bring the best from your players and that is the way for me.”

While Benitez’s ideas may be the same, age and experience inevitably brings a change of outlook. When speaking about Richarlison, he adopted a paternal tone which would not have been possible when he was a younger coach at Valencia, or in his early days at Anfield.

“Do you have children?” Benitez asked reporters, as he made the point about how he must deal with different personalities.

“I have two children and they are totally different. It is the same with players. Someone like Richarlison is very competitive.

"He's a winner, but he's a different character to the other players. He has a different character and we have to try to manage him.

"I had a conversation with him in the past about what I was expecting from him and hopefully he can do it. At the moment I can see only goals coming from him.”

Although it is early days at Goodison Park, there are similarities and subtle but important differences between Benitez’s outlook at Everton than at Newcastle United and Liverpool.

At all three clubs, expectation had to be balanced by the financial reality.

However, while the infrastructure at Liverpool in 2004 and St James’ Park 2016 needed an overhaul, that is not so at Everton.

"I will say to you, when I went to Newcastle I was thinking about the potential of the city and the fans and everything and it was right,” said Benitez.

"Here, the fans are there, the city is there but the structure and everything around the club is really good.

"There is a lot of ambition here and everybody wants to be sure we are getting better and better. The new stadium on the horizon is a great opportunity to do well, to improve and it will be easier to attract good players and that is something I can see from day one.

"There is a lot of ambition from the board, from the people at the top and a lot of members of staff are trying to follow this path and make this club better and better.”

By Chris Bascombe

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