Aston Villa – Everton was a tight, tense clash as the Toffees missed a big chance to boost their European hopes.
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Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison went close for Everton, as Villa’s defense held firm and their captain, Jack Grealish, jumped off the bench to return from injury.
With the point Villa have 49 points and sit 11th. Everton have 56 points and sit eighth.
Three things we learned
1. Everton miss glorious chance: This was a great opportunity for Everton to put pressure on others in the race for Europe, but they failed to grasp it. Carlo Ancelotti’s men started slow and although they were better in the second half, it was a case of too little too late. Everton’s midfield was sluggish and the duo or Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin were feeding off scraps. They have a game in-hand on other clubs around them, but a top six finish is looking a lot tougher now, especially as they play Manchester City on the final day. They have a chance, though.
2. Villa’s defensive unit key to turnaround: Emiliano Martinez and Tyrone Mings were dominant at the back and Martinez has now kept 15 clean sheets this season, equalling a club record in a single Premier League season. Mings and Martinez chucked their bodies on the line when Villa needed them and this display typified the new-look Villa this season. The biggest difference compared to last season is their ability to grind out points and John Terry has likely played a huge role in that. The back five of Martinez, Cash, Mings, Konsa and Targett have been so reliable.
3. Grealish makes big impact: Villa’s main man was back after a lengthy spell out and boy did he make a difference. He only came off the bench for the final half of the second half, but Grealish put the captains armband back on and did what he does best: cause havoc. His runs off the left saw Everton scrambling and he almost unlocked their defense a few times. It is great for Villa, and the England national team, to see Grealish back fit ahead of what will be a big summer for him at the European Championships.
Man of the Match: Emiliano Martinez – Equalled the club record with a few games to go and made some big stops to deny Andre Gomes and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Such a solid goalkeeper.
Villa were lively early on and should have taken the lead.
Douglas Luiz clipped in a perfect cross for Tyrone Mings, but somehow the Aston Villa skipper headed wide from close range when it looked easier to score.
Everton improved before half time as Richarlison had a few shots from the edge of the box and Lucas Digne whipped in a cross which just evaded Calvert-Lewin, but the Toffees were frustrated by a stubborn Villa defense.
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In the second half Everton pushed hard for the opener, but Villa went close as John McGinn had a shot blocked and Jordan Pickford pushed away Anwar El Ghazi’s free kick.
Jack Grealish came off the bench for his long-awaited return from injury and made a big difference as Villa saw plenty of the ball.
Andre Gomes went close twice as Emiliano Martinez denied him once, as Villa dropped back late on.
Martinez denied Calvert-Lewin brilliantly and Richarlison couldn’t direct a rebound on goal, then Mings denied Calvert-Lewin with a fine last-ditch tackle in stoppage time.