Soccer-Aston Villa grab gritty 2-0 win away at Everton
LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins scored a penalty and Emiliano Buendia added a second goal as they beat Everton 2-0 in a frenetic Premier League encounter at Goodison Park on Saturday to leave the home side in the bottom three.
Despite dominating the game for long spells, Everton could not fashion a goal and are now 18th in the table on 21 points, above Bournemouth on goal difference, while Villa are 11th on 31 points.
The best chance of a high-energy first half fell to Everton, with Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez forced into a superb reflex save to deny Amadu Onana's header in the 34th minute.
With Villa pinned back in their own half and struggling to pass the ball out from the back, Everton went even closer in the 54th minute as Tyrone Mings was forced to clear the ball off the line after a goal-mouth scramble.
Villa made a rare foray forward in the 59th minute and Watkins went close with a header but Jordan Pickford showed why Everton awarded him a new four-and-a-half-year contract this week by pulling off a superb save.
There was little he could do two minutes later when Villa were awarded a penalty in the 61st minute after John McGinn was upended in the box by Idrissa Gueye and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot.
Watkins stepped up and smashed the spot kick down the middle and past Pickford to give his side a lead that was scarcely deserved.
Everton substitute Ellis Simms hooked a volley over the bar in the 77th minute but things went from bad to worse for the home side when they were punished by Buendia for committing too many players forward.
McGinn broke through the middle and angled a pass to Buendia who lashed a shot inside the near post in the 81st minute to double Villa's advantage.
That took the wind out of the sails of the Toffees and Villa were able to contain them as they held on to secure all three points.
Watkins set a club record for Aston Villa by scoring for the fifth Premier League game in a row, and he was delighted with how his side weathered the storm and set him up to succeed from the spot.
"It's always nice to score goals. I'm feeling really confident in front of goal, the boys and the coach fill me with confidence," Watkins told BBC Sport.
"They put the ball in the position for me to finish. I have to do the easy part which is finish. Long may it continue."
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; editing by Clare Fallon)