Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Villans Steal in Late for a Point

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Villans Steal in Late for a Point

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Curtis

Gabriel Agbonlahor rescued a precious point for Aston Villa and dealt a blow to Everton's European hopes with a late equaliser against David Moyes' side, writes John Curtis.

The England Under-21 international, who is set to sign a new three-year contract this week, scored from close range in the 83rd minute to cancel out Joleon Lescott's first goal for the Toffees after 15 minutes.

And Villa boss Martin O'Neill praised his side's second half comeback and said: "We were poor in the first half. There is a bit of confidence lacking and it was a continuation of our performance against Liverpool.

"But the players galvanised themselves in the second half. They forced the pace immediately after half-time, spurned a couple of chances but we deserved something for our second half onslaught. It is an important point. After we got the goal, I thought we could have won it."

Patrik Berger inspired Villa after being brought on at half-time for Gavin McCann. O'Neill said: "We needed to change things but I was also mindful of the fact Gavin had been booked and I didn't want us going down to 10 men.

"Patrik has made significant contributions in shorter periods. I decided to bring him on earlier and who is to say it didn't work for us."

Everton dominated the opening half but Villa were transformed after the break with John Carew twice missing good chances before Agbonlahor struck.

The visitors were the better side in all departments in the first half, with Mikel Arteta impressive, although seldom has a Villa side looked so devoid of inspiration and belief.

Villa also struggled to cope with the threat of Andrew Johnson and James Vaughan but it was a different story in the second period.

Martin O'Neill's substitutes Berger and Shaun Maloney made a big difference and it was Everton who were on the back foot for long periods with captain Gareth Barry inspiring the home side's comeback.

But Everton looked set to hold on until Agbonlahor's goal pushed Villa five points ahead of third-from-bottom Charlton.

Everton, beaten only once in their last eight matches, enjoyed the majority of the early possession from the first whistle. …

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