BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) -Aston Villa ended Everton’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season with three unanswered goals in nine second-half minutes at Villa Park on Saturday.
The game had been drifting towards a goalless draw until the 66th minute, when Matty Cash fired Villa ahead with his first goal for the club, before an own goal by Lucas Digne made it 2-0.
As Everton buckled, Leon Bailey made it 3-0 with a powerful drive after coming on as a substitute, although his cameo performance was curtailed by a thigh injury soon after.
The closest an injury-hit Everton came to scoring was moments before Cash’s opener when in-form Demarai Gray curled a shot just wide, although they managed only one shot on target.
Everton have 10 points from five games in fifth spot, with Villa moving up into the top half of the table with seven points from their opening five games.
The visitors were without injured strikers Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison and were also missing keeper Jordan Pickford and right back Seamus Coleman.
Rafa Benitez’s side were content to sit deep and play on the break, and they had been enjoying a degree of control until they were blown away by a stunning Villa burst.
Cash, who had never scored for the Midlands club before, was played in down the right before cutting in on his left foot and sending a rising drive past Asmir Begovic.
Everton were rattled and fell further behind when Bailey’s inswinging corner glanced off Digne and into the net.
Bailey, whose pace was electrifying, then latched on to a bouncing ball down the left and lashed a ferocious shot into the back of the net with Begovic beaten for pace.
“I thought we were the better team in the first half but didn’t create as many clear-cut chances as we’d like. I felt five minutes before our goal, they were on top,” Villa manager Dean Smith said.
He reserved special praise for Bailey.
“Leon put the corner in for the goal and scored the third. The first goal was great build-up and Matt (Cash) has put it in the top bin,” Smith said.
“I thought Leon would lift us a bit. He’s really special. He’s a really good player. That’s why we got him here.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis and Hugh Lawson)