Robbie Keane’s late substitute appearance made him the fifth Irish international in the Aston Villa colours today attempting in vain to regain the lead after Victor Anichebe’s 69th minute penalty cancelled out Darren Bent’s second half opener.
Alex McLeish will be glad to have arrested the series of four straight home defeats but despite their 17 attempts on goal it was far from an inspiring display.
Darron Gibson, another Irishman on début duty, gave the home side and early fright when his perfectly weighted pass found Tim Cahill who couldn’t connect cleanly with the shot.
The Toffees had the impetus for much of the remainder of the first half and Shay Given had to react smartly twice on his return from a month long lay off, first to Louis Saha’s low header and then to his own defender Stephen Warnock’s misdirected clearance.
In between, Villa were lucky not to concede a penalty when Saha was pushed by Alan Hutton as Landon Donovan crossed.
Darren Bent’s finish for the goal was fittingly lacklustre, the English international scuffed Stephen Ireland’s pull back into the net after Marc Alrbighton’s cross took a fortunate deflection off Shane Duffy.
David Moyes reacted almost instantly, springing Anichebe from the bench who put the ball past Given after an inch perfect pass from Donovan.
Everton’s defence looked fragile throughout and Villa pushed on with the arrival of Keane, to warm applause from the home fans, but it was Anichebe who came closest in the dying moments but Given was again alert.
‘s side had the better of the game, with 17 attempts on goal and had a haphazard Everton defence under prolonged periods of pressure but even Keane, with his penchant for scoring on débuts could not inspire the faltering Villians to victory though McLeish will be glad the series of four straight home defeats has been arrested.