Everton 0 – 2 Aston Villa
Ollie Watkins continued his excellent goalscoring form in the Premier League as Aston Villa’s victory returned Everton to the relegation zone.
Striker Watkins netted for a fifth consecutive league game, thumping home a second-half penalty after former Villa midfielder Idrissa Gueye tripped John McGinn in the box.
It is a costly defeat for Sean Dyche’s men, who return to the bottom three after West Ham United and Leeds United both collected three points.
Toffees players and supporters will have left Goodison Park wondering how they went home empty handed, having spurned the better chances.
Neal Maupay’s diving header was cleared off the line by Tyrone Mings while his tame, side-footed effort was gathered by Emiliano Martinez
The Argentina World Cup winner also made a superb reflex save to deny Amadou Onana’s towering header as he tipped the Belgium midfielder’s effort over the crossbar.
At the other end, Jordan Pickford clawed Watkins’ header onto the post at full stretch, but the Villa front man was not to be denied from the spot with a confidently taken penalty.
Substitute Emiliano Buendia sealed the points with nine minutes remaining, turning inside Conor Coady before smashing past Pickford at the near post.
Villa punish wasteful Everton
Villa had been ticking along nicely under new boss Unai Emery but had hit a recent sticky patch by losing their past three games and conceding 11 goals.
They went to Merseyside to face a side who had won both their home games under their own recently appointed manager without conceding, but it was Villa who returned to winning ways – and with a welcome clean sheet.
Skipper McGinn gave the hosts an early warning when he flashed a first-time shot over from the edge of the area, but Everton took control from that point yet without any reward.
Everton’s performance highlighted why they are the league’s lowest goalscorers this term – with only 17 in 24 games – and they need to address their lack of cutting edge in the final third to avoid a relegation battle all the way to May.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin missed out again because of his hamstring injury and Maupay was fielded up top once more, but the out-of-form striker extended his barren run further.
The ex-Brighton man has scored just one goal in his past 28 league games and the closest he came was when he flicked a header wide while he also saw two further efforts kept out by Martinez.
Alex Iwobi’s shot from close range also deflected into the hands of the Villa goalkeeper as Everton tried in vain to find a breakthrough.
Those missed opportunities proved pivotal and Everton’s failure to take anything from the game was capitalized on by West Ham and Leeds, who both leapfrogged them out of the drop zone.
Watkins’ eighth goal of the campaign punished the home side’s wastefulness while Buendia converted with aplomb late on as Villa moved level on points with 10th-placed Chelsea.