Martin O’Neill was convinced that Aston Villa deserved yesterday’s pulsating 3-2 victory at Goodison Park despite admitting that Everton dominated the match.
Steve Sidwell scored the fastest goal of the Premier League season so far and Ashley Young struck with a breakaway brace to lift Villa six points clear of the Toffees.
Villa’s clinical counter-attacking caused heartbreak for David Moyes’s top four hopefuls who twice came from behind through Joleon Lescott.
O’Neill admitted that the hosts had enjoyed the most possession and created more chances, although he still thought Villa were worthy winners.
The victory lifts Villa back to fifth in the league above Hull.
“We’ve scored three goals away from home,” said O’Neill after Villa’s fifth Premier League away win of the season.
“Everton were at Goodison and the crowd were right behind them so you’d expect them to have the majority of the game and I’m sure that was the case.
“But we’ve scored three fantastic goals. I accept that one of them was an interception of a back-pass. But it was a wonderful game and I’ll analyse it later in the week.”
O’Neill admitted that Villa had to contend with long periods of sustained pressure to earn their first league victory since last month’s memorable win at Arsenal.
However, he praised his side’s spirit in finding the energy and confidence to regain their lead after twice being pegged back by Everton.
“We started off very brightly and got a goal within a minute or two with a great strike from Steve Sidwell.
“And then for about 10 or 15 minutes I thought we controlled the game and then Everton started to come into it, got the equaliser and had the better of the rest of the first-half.
“They put us under pressure again early on in the second-half until we score a wonderful goal by Ashley Young. It’s a mistake by them, but he still has to put it in the net. He’s world class.”
O’Neill admitted his heart was in his mouth during a dramatic conclusion to the game which included Lescott’s second leveller and Young’s winner, both in time added on.
“We think we might have seen it through, but you never know at Goodison,” added O’Neill.
“There was just no time on the clock. We were worried in case it went into our box, and the next thing you know it breaks to us.
“Young, had got miles to go to put that in the net, has just done fantastically.
“So it was a wonderful game and a great victory for us and a world class performance from Ashley Young.”
Everton boss Moyes now believes that Villa can crack the top four.
He said: “Villa have the players and the financial backing to be likely contenders for a place in the top four.
“But it’s hard to explain how disappointing that defeat was, we felt we had got an equaliser.
“I cannot fault my lads. From the second minute to the 93rd we were excellent. We did everything we could. We had a couple off the line and hit the bar. I have been looking for a good performance and that was what we got, only the result was wrong. Their second goal was a bad mistake and then we had to chase the game.
“But we kept going and got the equaliser. I felt then that it would finish 2-2, I don’t know how much more time was played but it seems a lot after the board had gone up saying three minutes.”
Moyes added: “I felt when we kicked-off after the equaliser the whistle would go, but maybe we had celebrated too long. Do they add time on for celebrations now?
“I’m told that the kick-off was 93 mins 10 seconds, and they scored in 93 min 32. It was that close. But we did lose concentration at that kick-off, we were a bit disorganised, but we had defenders playing up front, these things happen.”