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Romelu Lukaku came back to haunt Aston Villa as he scored in Everton's 2-0 win at Villa Park on Saturday.
Villa manager Paul Lambert admitted during the week that he tried to sign Lukaku last season, and the Belgian star swept home Leon Osman's pass from the edge of the box in the 68th minute to open the scoring and register his fifth league goal of the campaign. Osman hit a second later in the match to secure the Toffees' away win.
Villa Park hosted the two teams’ 197th meeting - the English top flight’s most-played fixture - and both sides looked determined to claim three points as chances flowed at both ends, with Lambert bringing back striker Christian Benteke after a month out with a thigh injury and Everton manager Roberto Martinez replacing Osman with Steven Pienaar in the only change for the away side.
Villa looked the livelier team in the early stages and the home side almost got off to an excellent start as Christian Benteke was tripped by Seamus Coleman in the area to win an early penalty, but Tim Howard was down quickly to his right to tip away the spot-kick on eight minutes.
Howard frustrated Benteke once more in the 23rd minute as the striker was played through on goal, but after coming in from the left saw the United States international palm his controlled effort away as chances started to become more commonplace.
Everton ended an entertaining first half on top as Barkley saw his long-range effort crash off the crossbar, before Kevin Mirallas weaved his way into the 18-yard box and poked wide.
Seven minutes into the second half, Barkley tried his luck from range again, but this time he missed the target altogether as his effort flew wide.
Fabian Delph was also trying to leave his mark on the match and his side-footed shot from the edge of the area looked goal-bound, but Phil Jagielka made a crucial block with his shoulder.
Substitute Osman secured the three points for Roberto Martinez’s Everton in the final 10 minutes as he slid a left-footed shot past Guzan from Gareth Barry’s cut-back to the 18-yard line.
Everton’s second away win from 13 matches was completed in the 81st minute as Osman hit a low shot past Guzan, leaving Villa just outside the relegation zone.
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "Look at that start we had - three fantastic chances and, on another day, the lads put them in. It puts you on the back foot when you don't score and, at this level, you know that a team only needs one chance to score. We conceded when we were on top of the game - it looked as if we were going to score and we then get hit with a poor goal.
"We've already played five of the top six teams in the league, and it's up to us to regroup."
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "Romelu Lukaku looked a real threat throughout the game. He didn't just contribute with the goal, his movement was terrific and his starting positions were always difficult to pick for the Villa back four. You are seeing a player that is enjoying his football and we want to see that continue."
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