Aston Villa 2 Everton 0

Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor’s liking for Everton continued as he grabbed the decisive second goal in the Premier League clash with David Moyes’ side.

The England Under-21 player had scored on his Villa debut against the Toffees 18 months ago and then netted the equaliser in last season’s corresponding game at Villa Park.

This time he doubled Villa’s lead after 62 minutes, after John Carew’s first half opener - his first domestic goal of the campaign - had put Villa on the way.

Martin O’Neill would have been pleased with the response of his players after Villa’s poor performance at Manchester City a week ago.

It was not in the same class as their win over Chelsea on the same ground three weeks ago but was still achieved with relative ease against the Merseysiders.

Everton never moved out of second gear and appeared to be suffering a hangover from their disappointing midweek result against Metalist Kharkiv in the UEFA Cup, when Andrew Johnson missed two penalties.

Moyes made three changes, including leaving out #11million summer capture Ayegbeni Yakubu, but the visitors seldom posed a threat to the Villa defence.

The only downside for Villa was seeing Carew, who had defied a groin injury to play in recent weeks, limping out of the action early in the second period.

Villa did not fire on all cylinders but the pace of Agbonlahor and Ashley Young, the power of Carew before he was injured, the midfield guile of Gareth Barry and Nigel Reo-Coker and the defensive strength of Martin Laursen gave them the edge.

Predictably Everton’s former Birmingham striker Andrew Johnson, without a goal for six months, was booed every time he touched the ball - and he seldom looked like ending that barren sequence despite a hard-working display.

Young attempted the first effort on goal for Villa but his 25 yard drive set the tone for a generally mediocre first half as it flew high and wide.

But after 13 minutes Villa broke the deadlock through John Carew’s first goal of the campaign.

Wilfred Bouma’s left-wing cross was headed straight up in the air by Joseph Yobo and then Leighton Baines only succeeded in clearing the ball straight to Carew, who steadied himself before firing a low shot past Stefan Wessels.

Agbonlahor had the ball in the net again four minutes later but Young’s cross was adjudged to have curled out of play before finding his England Under-21 team-mate.

Johnson made a telling break down the right flank after Jagielka’s pass over the top of the Villa defence but his low centre was cut out by Scott Carson who was being watched by England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence.

Johnson’s trickery won him a free-kick just outside the Villa box after being upended by Zat Knight but Leon Osman crashed his low shot straight into the Villa defensive wall.

The Everton midfielder would also have been disappointed to curl a cross straight at Carson after taking up a good position wide right.

In first half injury-time Tony Hibbert came to Everton’s rescue when he cleared Agbonlahor’s header off the line after Wessels had failed to deal with an Ashley Young corner.

Reo-Coker presented Everton with a chance early in the second half to get back on level terms when he brought down Phil Jagielka on the edge of the Villa box.

Up stepped Johnson to curl the free-kick around the defensive wall - but Carson was alert to the situation and had his body right behind the shot.

Johnson had his first clear-cut chance after 52 minutes but he mishit his shot just past the post from a knockdown by Victor Anichebe.

Martin O’Neill was forced to make a change after 52 minutes when Carew limped out of the action to be replaced by Craig Gardner.

It led to Agbonlahor being pushed up front - and after 62 minutes he showed great control to double Villa’s lead with his third goal in four matches against Everton.

Carson’s long clearance over the Everton defence was brought down with one touch by Agbonlahor - and his second slid the ball wide of the dive of Wessels.

It was his second strike of the season after also netting in Villa’s previous home game - the win over Chelsea three weeks ago.

Moyes brought on Yakubu for the final 20 minutes but Everton never threatened to force their way back into the match.

Aston Villa: Carson, Mellberg, Laursen, Knight, Bouma, Agbonlahor, Reo-Coker, Barry, Young, Moore (Harewood 80),
Carew (Gardner 53). Subs: Taylor, Davies, Maloney. Booked: Agbonlahor.
Goals: Carew 14, Agbonlahor 60.
Everton: Wessels, Hibbert, Yobo, Lescott, Baines, Pienaar, Jagielka, Neville, Osman, Anichebe (Yakubu 69), Johnson (McFadden 69).
Subs: Ruddy, Nuno Valente, Carsley.
Att: 38,235
Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).