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  • 14 January 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Referee: M. Clattenburg
  • • Attendance: 31853
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Aston Villa 1-1 Everton: Darren Bent opener cancelled out by Victor Anichebe strike for David Moyes' men

Aston Villa 1-1 Everton: Darren Bent opener cancelled out by Victor Anichebe strike for David Moyes' men

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Robbie Keane made a low-key debut and fans had to wait until the second-half for any goal action, with the Villans taking a slightly undeserved lead before the Toffees made it even

Aston Villa went 12 games unbeaten against Everton, drawing 1-1 with the Merseyside outfit after a heated second half.

A drab first 45 minutes saw Shay Given pull off two outstanding saves to keep the game even, the second from Stephen Warnock, who headed clumsily towards his own net from close range.

Goals from Darren Bent and Victor Anichebe rewarded the patient fans in the second period in a half that became heated, but failed to produce a winner.

Robbie Keane was denied his full Villa debut after being placed among the substitutes, while despite Alex McLeish’s warning to Given about not having a guaranteed place in the team once fit, the Irishman was handed his first start after recovering from his hamstring injury. Gabby Agbonlahor started up front with Darren Bent in the absence of the injured Emile Heskey.

Everton were able to hand their own new player, Darron Gibson, his first start after completing his move from Manchester United on Friday. Meanwhile, Shane Duffy started in place of the injured Sylvain Distin at the back.

Tim Howard was the first of the two goalkeepers to be tested in the game following a clumsy challenge by John Heitinga on Darren Bent from 25 yards out. Stiliyan Petrov was the man to take the subsequent free-kick and forced the American to punch his effort to safety.


Back-to-back | Everton's Phil Neville and Aston Villa's Gabby Agbonlahor size each other up

It was then Given’s turn to keep the game scoreless after a whipped in free-kick from Leighton Baines found the head of Frenchman Louis Saha, who was able to nod the ball low at goal, but the Irish keeper’s reflexes prevented an opener for Everton.

Warnock was spared the blushes of putting the ball in his own net by Given after a dangerous cross from Royston Drenthe was headed towards the ‘keeper’s bottom corner by the full-back, but the Irishman saved magnificently.

Villa kept pushing for a goal before the break, and Agbonlahor had a shot from around 30 yards out which forced a save out of Howard at the American’s far post, but in truth the home side had not impressed and left their fans disappointed as both teams went into their dressing rooms at half-time with the scoreline as it had started.

After the break Villa started with much more of an attacking impetus than they had shown in the first and awarded their patient fans with the opening goal thanks to front-man Bent.

Hutton sailed down to the by-line and sent the ball into the area, only for Stephen Ireland to latch onto the pass and place the ball into the path of the England international, who beat Howard with a typical poacher's finish.

However, the lead didn’t last long as Everton finally made a chance stick thanks to a wonderful effort from substitute Anichebe.

A defence-splitting ball from Landon Donovan allowed the striker to beat the offside trap by the skin of his teeth, with Warnock letting the attacker slip past and partially round Given before slotting the ball past the Irishman.

Both sides pushed till the end, but each saw little from their efforts, with Anichebe going closest out of the two to grabbing a winner.

The result leaves Villa and Everton just a point apart in the table, with David Moyes's side sat in 10th place, above Alex McLeish's men in 12th.

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