Aston Villa’s miserable home form goes on as they tailed off badly against Everton.
Goals from Romelu Lukaku in the 68th minute – finishing off the move of the match – and then Leon Osman nine minutes from time saw Roberto Martinez’s team run out comfy winners.
It was a game which might have turned out differently had Christian Benteke not failed with a seventh minute penalty.
But apart from a purple patch following that when Villa might have broken through, Everton were always that little bit cooler in possession and in Lukaku had the man to match Benteke’s threat at the other end.
The Villa favourite had the chance to strike first in the battle of the rising Belgian internationals when Seamus Coleman clipped his heels as Benteke chased down an Andi Weimann pass during a bright start from Paul Lambert’s side.
Benteke sprang up to take the penalty referee Andrew Taylor awarded unhesitatingly but although he struck the spot kick firmly enough, it was within Tim Howard’s diving range – and the Everton keeper celebrated an excellent, one-handed punch clear.
Lambert gave Alexsandar Tonev a third chance to start since his summer signing and saw him feature in Villa’s best move of the match which played Benteke clear in the 24th minute.
But again Howard stood up to the Villa star to make a save – and then emerged on top from a one-on-one with Weimann to frustrate the home side again a minute later.
From that moment, however, Everton began to take control with Brad Guzan getting his chance to prove that what the Belgians have in strikers, the Americans can match in goalkeepers.
He beat away a Lukaku header and defied the same player at the end of a solo run which had Villa defenders bouncing off him. In between time, Guzan was thankful that a Ross Barkley shot which deflected off Ashey Westwood cannoned off the bar.
Villa were forced into a reshuffle just before the interval when Antonio Luna pulled up with a hamstring injury which brought Ciaran Clark on to take up the centre-back role as Nathan Baker switched.
But the two teams seemed to have landed their best punches until Everton produced a stunning break in the 68th minute. It was led by the deftest f touches from first Leighton Baines and then Leon Osman which pulled Lukaku into a prime scoring position – and he did not miss with an unerring left-foot finish from just inside the box.
There was almost an immediate second for Everton with Lukaku just failing to get a decisive touch on a ball over the top but the visitors duly clinched the game when Gareth Barry, warmly received by the Holte, set up substitute Osman for another controlled, well-placed finish.
Villa’s hope emptied as quickly as the stands after that and the countdown to the final whistle was an exercise in the meek and mundane.
Lambert’s only compensation was that by the finish, there were not enough Villa fans left to register a more vocal protest to a record of three points from 15 at home this season.