Aston Villa throw cold water on Everton’s European hopes

Sports Desk, May 1 (EFE).- Everton fell 1-2 to Aston Villa at Goodison Park on Saturday to leave their hopes of qualifying for European play in 2021-2022 hanging by a thread.

The Toffees are eighth in the table with 52 points after losing for the ninth time in their last 10 Premier League home games. They trail Merseyside neighbors Liverpool – now in sixth place – by 2 points and are 9 points behind fourth-place Chelsea.

Villa, meanwhile, moved up to ninth on 48 points.

Everton coach Carlo Ancelotti was faced with an unexpected complication when James Rodriguez hurt himself in warm-ups and had to be scratched.

Even so, Villa boss Dean Smith probably had the better claim to sympathy, seeing as his best player, Jack Grealish, remained out of the squad Saturday for an 11th consecutive match due to injury.

The visitors were the superior side for most of the 206th game between Everton and Aston Villa, who have faced each other more times than any other pair of clubs in the English top-flight.

Ollie Watkins put Villa ahead in the 13th minute, exploiting a giveaway by Everton’s Mason Holgate.

Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford kept Watkins from making it 0-2 in the 17th on a chance generated by Ezri Konsa.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin brought the hosts level in the 19th minute with a tremendous header off Lucas Digne’s corner.

Gylfi Sigurdsson saw his shot from outside the area blocked in the 25th, seconds before Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez caught a diving header from Calvert-Lewin.

Villa created a flurry around the half-hour mark, as Watkins forced a stop from Pickford and only the cross-bar prevented Anwar El Ghazi from scoring on the follow-up.

The post thwarted Villa’s Ross Barkley – a former Toffee – in the 37th minute.

The sides were still deadlocked at 1-1 in the 80th minute when Villa’s Bertrand Traore got the ball to El Ghazi behind the defense and the Dutch winger bested Pickford to make it 1-2. EFE apa/dr

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