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Aston Villa 0-0 Everton - Instant Reaction | Frustration at Villa Park

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The Toffees’ quest for Europe suffers another setback

Aston Villa v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle - Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images

It was an evening of frustration at Villa Park as Everton were held to a goalless draw against Aston Villa to once again leave their European ambitions in the balance.

The Toffees had the better of the opportunities, certainly in the second half, but were made to rue their lack of guile in and around the penalty area as well as a solid performance by Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez.

This was the game that brutally exposed Everton’s lack of depth. With James Rodriguez injured there were precious little options on the bench to try and turn a tight game in the Toffees’ favour.

They could have gone sixth with a win, but instead they have to be content with moving up one place to eighth, level on points with Tottenham, with three games to play.

It means they probably have to win both their remaining home games against Sheffield United and Wolves, and may even need something from the Etihad on the final day.

Carlo Ancelotti made two changes from the side that won at West Ham last weekend with Abdoulaye Doucoure replacing Tom Davies for his first appearance since March after a foot injury, while Mason Holgate came in for the injured Yerry Mina.

The first half was a largely forgettable affair, punctuated by a handful of half-chances.

Bertrand Traore’s first-time shot straight at Pickford from the edge of the box was the first effort on target, with Calvert-Lewin sending a tame header from Seamus Coleman’s chipped cross straight at Martinez moments later.

The best chance of the opening 45 minutes by far fell to Tyrone Mings, who met Douglas Luiz’s cross with a diving a header from six yards but sent the ball just wide.

Aston Villa v Everton - Premier League - Villa Park Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/PA Images via Getty Images

Anwar El Ghazi, who scored the winner against Everton 12 days ago, sent a long-range effort well over, while Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick from distance was comfortably saved by Martinez

Lucas Digne and Dominic Calvert-Lewin both caused alarm by going down injured towards the end of the opening period, but thankfully re-emerged for the second half.

It was Calvert-Lewin who had the first opportunity of the second half when he raced onto a through ball and drew a smart stop from Martinez, though the offside flag was subsequently raised.

The Villa goalkeeper was then alert to palm away Ben Godfrey’s near-post effort after the Toffees defender got on the end of Sigurdsson’s clever free-kick.

Villa responded and worked their way back into the game, winning a succession of corners before El Ghazi’s free kick drew a smart stop from Jordan Pickford.

Carlo waited until the 66th minute to make his first change as Andre Gomes replaced the ineffective Sigurdsson.

The Portuguese had a chance to open the scoring within seconds coming on when he collected the ball in space on the edge of the box, but he blazed wastefully well over the bar.

Villa introduced influential captain Jack Grealish with 19 minutes left for his first appearance since February.

Gomes then had another glorious opportunity when Richarlison laid the ball off to him on the edge of the box, but his side-footed effort was blocked by the outstretched boot of Esri Konsa.

FBL-ENG-PR-ASTON VILLA-EVERTON Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Everton’s chance of the game came with just four minutes left when Calvert-Lewin met Digne’s cross with a towering header, but once again the impressive Martinez managed to block.

Some brave defending from Mings then denied Calvert-Lewin a tap-in at the death. Everton consistently going close, but not close enough.

Aston Villa v Everton - Premier League - Villa Park Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/PA Images via Getty Images