Steven Gerrard won his first managerial clash with former England teammate Frank Lampard as Aston Villa beat Everton 2-1 to get off the mark in the Premier League.
Goals from Danny Ings and Emi Buendia eased the pressure on Gerrard after a run of two wins in their previous 12 games dating back to last season.
However, Villa had to survive a nervy finish as Lucas Digne’s own goal gave Everton hope before Emi Martinez denied Anthony Gordon an equaliser in stoppage time.
“I always expected when we conceded that sloppy goal that there would be a bit of nervousness towards the end. That was a big test of our character and resilience and we managed to stay firm,” said Gerrard.
“We did enough to get over the line and I think we deserved the win.”
Gerrard was in the firing line after a 2-0 defeat to newly-promoted Bournemouth on the opening weekend of the season.
The former Liverpool captain had also controversially dropped Tyrone Mings last weekend after stripping the England centre-back of the club captaincy.
Mings was restored at the heart of the Villa defence, but their problems defending set-pieces persisted.
Lampard’s men are badly missing the presence of the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin up front, but were a constant threat from dead balls.
The Toffees did had the ball in the net midway through the first-half when Gordon pressured Matty Cash into slicing the ball into his own goal after Villa failed to clear a corner. However, Gordon was flagged offside.
Moments later, Villa came up with one of the few moments of quality in a scrappy game affected by the baking temperatures that have seen water breaks introduced for all game in the Premier League this weekend.
Ollie Watkins’ return to the starting line-up was the other Villa change made by Gerrard and his run down the right stretched the Everton defence before Ings spun onto his strike partner’s cross and smashed the ball low past Jordan Pickford.
Watkins was the creator again for Villa’s second as a one-two with Buendia gave the Argentine a tap-in to seemingly secure the points five minutes from time.
But two minutes later, debutant Amadou Onana’s powerful run and cross forced Digne into scoring an own goal against his old club.
Everton will feel they should have then snatched a point in a frantic finale as Martinez saved Gordon’s mishit effort and Mings justified his place by preventing Salomon Rondon from turning in the rebound.
Martinez was needed again seven minutes into stoppage time to trap a more powerful effort from Gordon, but Villa clung on to leave Everton still looking for their first point of the season.
“We should’ve got a draw,” said Lampard. “We had two or three really good chances at the end of the game which leaves you with a bad feeling.”
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