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Aston Villa 3 - 2 Everton: Instant Reaction

Lackluster first half performance results in loss to Aston Villa.

Clive Mason/Getty Images

Less than a week after Everton thrashed Manchester United 3-0 at Goodison Park, Roberto Martinez's side turned in a disappointing performance against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Questions must be asked of Martinez, who made two changes to his team coming off the impressive win. Leon Osman and Ross Barkley were benched for Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith. The manager restored last week's starting 11 in the 75th minute, but by that time Everton were down by two goals.

Everton looked lethargic from the start. Poor passing, lazy defensive play, and no shots in the first 45 minutes added up to one of the worst halves in a season that has seen some bad halves. The hosts, contrastingly, played well and made the Toffees pay. Christian Benteke had a brace from two corners after just one half, and the Villains controlled the midfield with Fabian Delph and Jack Grealish's play making the difference in the center of the park.

Everton came out looking a bit more energized in the second half. Steven Naismith won a penalty from a foul by Ron Vlaar, and Romelu Lukaku put the Blues back in the game when he converted. But just seven minutes later Tom Cleverley made it a two-goal difference when he took a Leandro Bacuna pass and put it past Tim Howard with an excellent finish.

A stoppage time Phil Jagielka goal made the home supporters nervous, but the Toffees couldn't find an equalizing goal.

Everton drop one spot to 11th place with 44 points. The win puts Aston Villa in 14th place at 35 points on the season, though they still face a relegation battle in the final weeks. Sunderland, also in the midst of a relegation fight, visit Goodison Park next Saturday.