Everton picked up their first Barclays Premier League home win of the season with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Aston Villa.
Roberto Martinez's men had only managed a single triumph in seven league matches prior to Villa's visit to Goodison Park, but they rarely looked like dropping points on this occasion. Phil Jagielka, Romelu Lukaku and the returning Seamus Coleman were on target as the hosts controlled proceedings and produced some enterprising football on their way to a morale-boosting success.
Although the visitors were without Fabian Delph due to a dislocated shoulder, Paul Lambert was able to recall Christian Benteke and captain Ron Vlaar following their respective lay-offs. Both men were unable to make much of an impact, however, and Everton led at the break through Jagielka's 18th-minute header before Lukaku and Coleman put the result beyond doubt. Everton saw out the match in straightforward fashion, completing a first Barclays Premier League win at home since beating Manchester United in April, and consigning Villa to a fourth successive defeat.
Martinez said Villa were the last team he wanted to be facing at home following their wins at Stoke City and Liverpool, but he received the boost of being able to welcome Coleman, Ross Barkley and James McCarthy back from injury. The England midfielder looked particularly dangerous in the early stages, pulling the strings for his side and forcing goalkeeper Brad Guzan into a fine save from 20 yards in the 17th minute.
Guzan may have been able to keep his side level on that occasion, but Villa found themselves trailing less than 60 seconds later. Baines' teasing right-footed delivery across the face of goal was nodded in by Jagielka from point-blank range.
The visitors grew into the contest as the first half progressed, but struggled to provide Benteke with service in the Belgian's first start since March. Everton could have made the most of Villa's troubles by doubling their lead just before the break, as Coleman cut into the area and saw his left-footed drive palmed away by Guzan.
The home side may not have been completely comfortable in the lead-up to half-time, but Villa were left with a much tougher task on their hands three minutes into the second period. Lukaku collected a through-ball from Barkley, held off Tom Cleverley and then saw a low effort squirm under Guzan.
With Villa desperately searching for a way back into the contest, Everton demonstrated quick thinking from a free-kick to grab a third goal with 14 minutes remaining. After being released down the left, Baines fired a cross into the six-yard box that gave Coleman an easy tap-in.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "It was very difficult. Villa carried a threat on the counter attack. I'm pleased we controlled the game and stopped them. We scored at the right times and we were in control, but I'm so pleased at the way we performed.
"We had a real focus and intensity to defend well. Overall, we worked extremely hard to keep Villa quiet in front of goal. It was a very clever performance and an important one. It's a special feeling after the way we lost at Manchester United.
"Today was a really strong team performance, which is pleasing when you come back from the international break. We had to be patient with Ross Barkley. I didn't expect him to last as long as he did, but he got the tempo of the match very quickly. It's good to see him back."
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "We got what we deserved. We lost poor goals at bad times of the game. The second goal, Guzan says he should have saved it, then we switched off at a free-kick. We spoke about not switching off against Everton, they finished in the top five last year. We had to be better and we take our medicine.
"When we lost the first goal, we came into the game, but we were well beaten."
|01 Nov 2014||v Swansea (H)|
|22 Nov 2014||v West Ham (H)|
|26 Oct 2014||v Burnley (A)|
|09 Nov 2014||v Sunderland (A)|
|30 Nov 2014||v Spurs (A)|
|03 Dec 2014||v Hull (H)|