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Aston Villa threw away a two-goal lead as Marouane Fellaini's second of the match deep into added time denied the visitors a much-needed Barclays Premier League win at Goodison Park.
For a long time it appeared Paul Lambert's side would be celebrating their second surprise success on Merseyside, having beaten Liverpool in December, but Fellaini scored his second of the afternoon to add to Victor Anichebe's first-half strike and cancel out Christian Benteke's double and a goal from Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Everton's remarkable powers of recovery came to the fore again and they are second only to Manchester United having taken 21 points from losing positions this season, although the draw was not enough to take them back into the top four for the first time since 22 December.
It was a huge blow to Villa, who since their last league success at Anfield seven weeks ago have picked up three points. Lambert's side arrived in the north-west in much worse form than when they turned over Liverpool and, although they left with a point, they will be disappointed.
Everton had shown in the midweek 2-1 win over West Brom that their defence was not watertight, but conceding in the second minute lead was disappointing for them. Benteke hared past John Heitinga to slide a shot across Tim Howard from Charles N'Zogbia's pass.
Fellaini almost produced an instant response, rolling a shot just wide of Brad Guzan's right post before Anichebe had an effort patted down by the American. Benteke continued to look threatening, however, and his shot from Agbonlahor's cutback was deflected behind before Everton drew level thanks to their own powerhouse forward.
Anichebe was preferred up front to Nikica Jelavic and he repaid manager David Moyes' faith with a 21st-minute equaliser. Having held up Kevin Mirallas' pass by using his superior upper body strength, he then turned Ciaran Clark to fire a left-footed shot past Guzan for his fifth goal in eight league starts.
Villa took the lead again when a corner was only partially cleared and Ashley Westwood's right-wing cross reached Agbonlahor, who outjumped Fellaini to head in at the far post. The visitors might have gone two ahead when Agbonlahor played in Andreas Weimann, only for the Austrian to blaze over with only Howard to beat, but he made up for it with his involvement in the third goal, when he exchanged passes with Matthew Lowton, allowing the right-back to curl in an inviting cross to Benteke who nodded in at the near post and take his Premier League tally into double figures.
With 20 minutes to go Fellaini cut in from the left and again utilised Anichebe's strength to hold up the ball before taking the return pass to shoot past Guzan with the help of a minor deflection. With time running out substitute Jelavic had one shot batted away by Guzan and it seemed as though Villa might cling on but Fellaini's header in the third of six added minutes changed that, and the Belgian midfielder might even have won it even later but shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Everton manager David Moyes: "I'd like to say I didn't think we should be in that position [3-1 down] but we were because we defended poorly - the defending let us down.
"If anyone doesn't think Benteke, [Charles] N'Zogbia and Agbonlahor can't cause you problems then they're wrong and you have to be ready for that. We were ready but we didn't just deal with it that well. I had a strange feeling today we might have to score four goals to win it.
"I hoped I was going to be wrong but it was the way it panned out but it wasn't for the lack of effort from the players. With the week we've had - Bolton away in the cup, at home to West Brom and then Aston Villa - if at the start of the week you'd given me a win in the cup and four points I might have taken it."
"We've not really been coming up with the goals but I thought Victor played really well, took his goal well and set up Fellaini's second. The two boys both came up with the goods. We are happy with the way Felli got his goals - but I am sure they will be happy how Benteke did for them."
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "We deserved to win the game. You are never going to get an easy game here but it is disappointing to only get a point.
"It is a really tough place to come and three points would have been great but I thought we played ever so well. I can't fault the way the lads played and there are not many teams that come up here and beat them.
"David [Moyes] has a really good side but if we continue to play like that hopefully we will start to get results."
"I am sick of talking about conceding goals from corners. They defended so well but Fellaini has scored important goals for them and when the corner comes into the box, Ron [Vlaar] has got him and then he loses him."
|16 Apr 2013||v Arsenal (A)|
|13 Apr 2013||v QPR (H)|
|19 May 2013||v Chelsea (A)|
|20 Apr 2013||v Sunderland (A)|
|30 Mar 2013||v Stoke (H)|
|12 May 2013||v West Ham (H)|