Aston Villa 1-1 Everton

Louis Saha and Victor Anichebe
Victor Anichebe (right) celebrates his third goal of the season

Victor Anichebe came off the bench to earn Everton a point as Aston Villa's poor home form continued.

Darren Bent opened the scoring for the hosts with a scuffed finish from Stephen Ireland's pass in the 56th minute.

David Moyes' response was to bring on Anichebe and he slotted home after Landon Donovan played him through.

Anichebe had a late attempt to grab a winner with a fierce strike but Shay Given denied him a winner.

Villa had only won three home games this season out of 10 but, with Everton having only managed a solitary victory at Villa Park since the inception of the Premier League, the hosts would have been hopeful of improving that record.

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Alex McLeish

However it was Everton, with Darron Gibson making his debut after his move from Manchester United on Friday, who dominated the early stages.

Only the heroics of Shay Given, who returned to the starting line-up after six weeks out with a hamstring injury, kept Villa in the game as he made a stunning save to deny Louis Saha after the striker rose well to head Leighton Baines' header on target.

Given was called upon again soon after, this time to spare the blushes of his own team-mate.

Saha failed to get up to reach a Baines cross and Stephen Warnock was caught unaware as the ball came off his head but Given proved that Villa boss Alex McLeish was right to slot him straight back into the starting line-up.

Villa's best chance of the half fell to Marc Albrighton but, just as he was about to strike from close range, Royston Drenthe tracked back to make a last-ditch tackle.

After the break Everton went close again when Marouane Fellaini met Baines' free-kick at the back post, but Given was on hand to save with his shoulder.

Given's performance paid dividends when Bent opened the scoring in the 56th minute and, like much of Villa's play early on, it was scrappy.

Shane Duffy failed to clear Albrighton's cross and Ireland pounced to retrieve the ball and tee up Bent.

The England striker's finish was certainly not his best but, with the help of a deflection off a sliding Phil Neville, the ball spun over Howard.

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Moyes praises Donovan influence

Moyes hauled off Drenthe soon after to bring on Anichebe and the substitute made an almost instant impact.

A perfectly-timed pass from Donovan cut open the hosts' defence and Anichebe managed to stay onside before calmly slotting past Given.

Desperate for a win, McLeish brought on Robbie Keane to make his debut with just under 10 minutes remaining in place of Warnock, but the on-loan LA Galaxy striker could not muster up a Hollywood-style finish.

Villa threw men into the box but, except for a couple of scrambles in the area, they never came close and Everton's best chance of a late winner came to Anichebe, only for Given to be on hand to save again.

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish:

"I'm disappointed we didn't hold on. I had a good feeling we would. It's such a shame that Albrighton tracked Anichebe back but just didn't do the final thing to stop him.

"We are gutted by that. It's a good learning experience for him. It hurt us a wee bit by not getting three points.

"It was great to see Darren [Bent] back in the goals. He's been struggling a bit with injuries but he finished the game well."

Everton manager David Moyes:

"I was really pleased to see it [the equaliser] myself. We played in midweek against Tottenham and that tiredness was beginning to show but thankfully we got the equaliser.

"Victor was put through by the best man on the pitch today in Landon Donovan. All in all it was a goal and well played Landon.

"We were without a lot of players today so great credit to the boys for picking up a great point."

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