Rafa Benitez suffered his first defeat as Everton boss. Picture: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images
And their absences were stark as second-half efforts from Matty Cash, Leon Bailey and a Lucas Digne own goal meant it was a miserable trip back to Merseyside for the visitors.
- Leon Bailey: since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen for around £30 million, the winger has had to be patient. But he came off the bench to ensure Villa dominated. His corner was headed in by Digne before he rifled in the home side’s third. Hobbled off with injury but he’d already ensured Everton were put to the sword. Man of the match.
- Matty Cash: the clash needed a moment of magic - and he delivered. Cash marauded into the Everton box and showed the right composure and confidence to lash home the breakthrough.
- Matt Target: a constant outlet throughout his time on the pitch. Target was unlucky to be substituted for Bailey but, ultimately, it proved successful.
- Lucas Digne: the Frenchman had an evening to forget. He allowed Cash to skip past him far too easily for Villa’s opener before he headed Bailey’s corner into his own net.
- Ben Godfrey: the defender was forced to fill in for Seamus Coleman on the right-hand side of defence. However, Godfrey struggled to offer much going forward and was caught well out of position for Bailey’s effort.
- Rafa Benitez: hamstrung by injuries to regular starters, but the Everton boss was tactically out thought. Subs made little impact and James Rodriguez’s omission from the squad has left sections of fans questions that decision.
Aston Villa (5-3-2): Martinez 6, Cash 8, Targett 7 (Bailey 61-82; 8 - Young 82), Konsa 7, Tuanzebe 7, Mings 6, Luiz 7, Ramsey 8, McGinn 7 (Nakamba 40), Watkins 7, Ings 7.
Everton (4-4-2): Begovic 5, Godfrey 4 (Kenny 80), Mina 5, Keane 5, Digne 4, Allan 5 (Gordon 72; 5), Doucoure 5, Townsend 5, Iwobi 5 (Davies 80), Gray 7, Rondon 5 (Gomes 63; 5).
Everton travel to Championship outfit QPR in the Carabao Cup third round on Tuesday.
They then welcome Norwich City to Goodison Park on Saturday 25 September.