Late Strikes Ignite Everton
Kevin Mirallas curled in a sensational late free-kick as Everton came from behind to earn a 2-1 home victory over Aston Villa on Saturday.
The hosts dominated possession in the opening period at Goodison Park, but found themselves behind against the run of play in the 34th minute thanks to a Leandro Bacuna strike.
Everton had the lion's share of possession once again after the break, but were struggling to break down the Villa defence until substitute Steven Naismith latched onto the end of a Steven Pienaar flick to equalise after 74 minutes.
With the fixture looking like it was heading for an eighth draw in 11 matches between the two teams, Mirallas scored superbly from 25 yards in the 85th minute to snatch all three points.
The win completes Everton's first Premier League double over Villa and sends Roberto Martinez's side fifth, while the men from the Midlands remain 10th.
There was no place in the Everton squad for Lacina Traore, who was introduced to the home fans before kick-off following his loan arrival from Monaco, but Aiden McGeady made his first Premier League start for the hosts and went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock in the opening two minutes.
Cutting inside from the right, the Republic of Ireland international unleashed a superb curling effort from the edge of the penalty area that struck the left-hand post.
Everton dominated possession in the opening stages, but struggled to cause Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan too many problems in the wake of McGeady's early strike.
The 27-year-old – signed from Spartak Moscow during the January transfer window – was also responsible for the game's first shot on target, but his low drive was comfortably collected by Guzan.
Having not troubled Tim Howard at all for the opening 30 minutes, it was Villa who took the lead when Christian Benteke slid in Bacuna and the Dutchman slotted beyond the Everton stopper from close range for his fourth goal of the season and second in as many matches.
Fabien Delph dispossessed Ross Barkley superbly in the middle of the park in the build-up to the goal.
Martinez brought Pienaar on in place of Barkley for the second half as Everton went in search of an equaliser and Leon Osman blazed across goal 10 minutes in, missing out on a seventh career goal against Villa.
Pienaar pulled the trigger from 20 yards shortly after the hour mark, but his fizzing effort only succeeded in stinging the palms of Guzan.
Everton finally pulled themselves level in the 74th minute, when Naismith burst into the penalty area to latch onto a Pienaar through-ball and poke beyond the Villa goalkeeper.
And Mirallas completed the comeback five minutes from time with a wonderful set-piece finish.