There was a Spanish flag adorned with the Everton crest in the away contingent as the fans' infectious, new, Anglo-French* victory chant rang around Villa Park while it emptied of demoralised home supporters, but the inspiration for an important away victory was all English.

At the age of 32, Leon Osman's capacity to influence a game for 90 minutes may have diminished but he proved how decisive he can be coming off the substitute's bench with a game-changing intervention that helped lift the Blues over Villa and continue Roberto Martinez's impressive start to life at the Everton helm.

Initially providing the experience and level-headed influence to help check the momentum Villa had been building since half time, Osman then served up the goal that broke the deadlock between these two historic adversaries and, finally, sealed the three points with a lovely placed finish with 10 minutes to go.

The result marked Everton's first clean sheet in 11 years in a fixture that has, in recent seasons, become something of a back-and-forth battle often ending with numerous goals but honours even. It was also important in the context of the Blues' bid to crack the top four this season – Tottenham Hotspur, next weekend's visitors to Goodison, had won here last weekend by the same scoreline and if a Champions League berth is going to be even a possibility for Martinez' side this term, it's games like these that need to be won.

Though the scoreline was convincing, it was made possible by heroic work from Tim Howard in keeping the score goalless at half time. The American had a huge game in goal, foiling both Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann in one-on-one situations in the first 25 minutes as Everton's defence buckled under Villa's direct and fleet-footed approach.

Howard's best moment, however, came after just eight minutes when Seamus Coleman, who did not enjoy one of his better afternoons, clipped the heels of Benteke as the striker cut across him in the penalty area and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot. While the intent from the Irishman had been missing, the official had little option than to award a penalty but Howard came up big against Benteke, palming his well-struck shot behind in world-class fashion.

Paul Lambert's men were happy to cede the bulk of possession to Everton in the opening 45 minutes and try to find Benteke with balls launched forward from the back or hit the visitiors on the quick counter-attack with men flooding forward through midfield. The Blues, meanwhile, struggled to get their possession-based game into second gear, with Kevin Mirallas hugging the right touchline and largely on the fringe of the action and Romelu Lukaku receiving little service beyond the first-minute cross from his Belgian teammate that he couldn't steer goalwards.

Things started to click a little more as the half progressed, though, and a rare attacking foray on the overlap by Coleman in the 26th minute ended with the Irishman whipping a cross to Lukaku but his header was thwarted by a reflex stop from Guzan. It was Everton's best move of the game thus far and was followed almost immediately by a wonderful shot by Ross Barkley but a slight a deflection saw it bounce agonisingly off the top of the crossbar.

Lukaku then embarked on a now-typical rampaging run but the ball got caught under his feet a little at the crucial moment and a clear chance evaporated, while Mirallas ended a quick break by twisting and turning past his marker and firing goalwards, only for his shot to deflect behind.

If the Blues appeared to be building up a head of steam going into the half-time interval, it appeared to have dissipated to a large degree as the second half started. What purpose they had going forward was wasted somewhat by a poor final ball, both from the wide areas and from set-pieces.

Giving up more and more possession to the home side and generally unable to match their hosts' quick-fire passing exchanges down the centre of the field, the Blues were looking a little ragged in the first quarter of an hour after the restart. Barkley's initial threat had subsided as some questionable decision-making crept into his play, not least when he ignored the better placed Mirallas to his right in the 51st minute and went for an ambitious shot from the angle that he blazed into the stands behind Guzan's goal.

Martinez responded, though, by replacing the youngester with Osman on the hour mark and Everton looked a lot more settled in attacking midfield as a result of the veteran's more considered distribution. With Gareth Barry and James McCarthy carrying out their typically industrious and unsung duties of breaking things up in central midfield and Benteke tiring up front for Villa, the Blues now had the platform on which to go and win the game.

The crucial first goal arrived eight minutes after Osman's introduction. A well-worked move against the left touchline saw Leighton Baines find his fellow England international with a first-time pass infield and Osman knocked on into the penalty area to meet Lukaku's run where the Belgian striker swept the ball past the 'keeper before charging over to the massed ranks of celebrating Evertonians.

Lukaku almost earned Everton a penalty of their own just two minutes later, referee Taylor ignoring calls for handball on Ron Vlaar, but an unconvincing close-range snap-shot from Gabriel Agbonlahor in the 75th minute that, thankfully, ended up in Howard's arms was the last whimper from a Villa side whose belief had visibly been choked out of them by the goal. It had come at a time when Lambert's men were in the ascendency and, conversely, it gave Martinez's men the shot in the arm they needed to take decisive control of the game.

It was fitting, therefore, that Osman was the one to deliver the hammer blow in the 81st minute. Mirallas played a corner short to Baines who, his inexplicable shackles off, was causing all sorts of problems on Villa's right and he fed it back to Barry in an ocean of space in the penalty area. He had time to play it back to the beckoning Osman on the edge of the box and he stroked the ball inside the post with aplomb.

With the home fans heading for the exits, Everton had chances to pour more misery on Villa but Steven Naismith, on as a substitute for Pienaar, just missed finding the same spot as had Osman with a good effort from 18 yards and Baines raked an effort of his own wide from a similar distance in injury time.

In the final reckoning, a terrific three points from precisely the kind of game Everton should be winning, although Martinez will feel indebted to his goalkeeper for a fine game between the sticks. Ultimately, the Blues found the quality they needed in the final third when it mattered and they were good value for the three points on the whole.

Furthermore, though he somehow failed to book Tomev for a late, high-footed tackle on Baines in the first half but then correctly yellow-carded McCarthy for an ugly challenge on Westwood in the second, it was nice not to have to talk about controversial referee Taylor, though Lambert will no doubt feel as though some of the marginal decisions went Everton's way.

Most importantly, this Everton side looks like it knows how to win games and then close them out at the moment and Martinez has made two match-turning substitutions in the last two games that are a credit to his reading of his side's performances. That makes five Premier League wins in the last six matches; now to make a statement against rivals Spurs back at Goodison on Sunday...

* Reference amended (see discussion below)

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Brian Denton
092 Posted 27/10/2013 at 01:21:57
'Franco-English victory chant"? What have the French got to do with anything? Surely Hispano-English?
James Flynn
102 Posted 27/10/2013 at 01:28:55
Great win. Think Ossie found his niche and a good one it is; super-sub.

Great seeing Baines and Coleman up the flanks more today. With Barry and McCarthy doing the yeoman work, our threat up front, would love to see more and more Baines/Coleman involvement in the attack. Let's really give opponents something to worry about.

And that thru-ball Howard came out to smother at the top of the box, how was that fellow on-side? He looked to be a couple yards past the last man when the ball was played to him.

Craig Fletcher
103 Posted 27/10/2013 at 02:32:10
Great report, Lyndon. Spurs next week will be interesting - a home win there and we'll be well in the mix for top four, let alone Europa League!

Only frustration for Saturday was seeing Liverpool, Arsenal, Southampton and Man U (another come-from-behind victory for them at that) all win. Bollocks.
Scott Robinson
104 Posted 27/10/2013 at 02:44:55
@Brian Denton - that's a good point however I think it is a reference to General Franco and his time as a ruling dictator of Spain from the 1930's to his death in the 1970's. If so, I think ToffeeWeb should be very careful with these references as this was a dark period in Spanish history, not something to be celebrated....
Mike Gaynes
107 Posted 27/10/2013 at 03:24:36
Yes, Lyndon, that Franco reference made me curious too. Can you elucidate?

Also, well noted that "the Blues were looking a little ragged in the first quarter of an hour after the restart." That seems to be happening in just about every game.

Andy Crooks
116 Posted 27/10/2013 at 05:25:45
It seems clear to me that Roberto reads this site on a daily basis and, more importantly, acts on the advice he gets.

Look at the recent "Talking Points" for example: "Do we need a new goalie"? I suspect RM has told Tim to check out that particular thread. He has, and by God it worked for us today.

No doubt he has had Leon Osman perusing the site lately. "The lads don't think you can cut it for 90 minutes any more, Leon. From now on, you're an impact sub." Seems to me it worked today!

Also, Roberto seems to have taken the hint that young Ross might be getting a little complacent. Well, he dealt with that today.

Now that it is obvious we have Roberto's ear, I think we should take advantage, So, RM, get Duffy back after Christmas and start slowly building the partnership with Stones that is our future defence.

If any one else has any ideas for RM let's hear them while we are on a roll!

Lyndon Lloyd
117 Posted 27/10/2013 at 05:25:01
At the risk of belying my modern history university education, I'm not sure how General Franco enters into the equation.

Whether it's "allez allez allez au" or "allez allez allez oh", it's clearly a chant that starts in French and finishes in English, hence "Franco-English"... or Anglo-French, if you prefer.

As far as I know, the song started with Eintracht Frankfurt, was co-opted by Hibernian fans and has now been embraced by us with our version so no Spanish connection there.

Scott Robinson
118 Posted 27/10/2013 at 06:02:13
Thanks Lyndon for clarifying! I haven't even heard the chant but given my Spanish love affair, it was the first thing that popped into my mind. Best, Scott
Mike Gaynes
120 Posted 27/10/2013 at 05:56:17
At the risk of exposing my utter lack of classical education, I will share that Franco-American is a particularly odious brand of canned spaghetti products, including the infamous Spaghetti-O's, and I could not have imagined what appalling canned product might be denoted by Franco-English, so I appreciate your explanation, Lyndon.

I think it must have been your mention of the Spanish flag that steered Scott Robinson off-course towards the late Generalissimo.

What steered me off-course was two glasses of excellent rum... my only excuse for this nonsensical post.

Lyndon Lloyd
121 Posted 27/10/2013 at 06:21:18
Hah, I was clearly trying to be too clever by half so apologies for the confusion!
Christine Foster
122 Posted 27/10/2013 at 07:04:16
Actually Lyndon, it may have more to do with the children's rhyme, "The big ship sails on the alle alle oh, the alle,alle on on the last day of September".

Traditionally a Liverpool rhyme sung by school kids in Liverpool since the turn of the century, that's 1900s btw. Although its original reference is unclear, there is debate as to whether it's a reference to the Manchester Ship Canal, or as my mum, god bless her cotton socks, used to sing it to me referring the song to the Atlantic Ocean during the war. Either way, it's a stronger case for plagiarism than George Harrison ripping off My Sweet Lord..

John Crawley
123 Posted 27/10/2013 at 06:57:46
Just in case anyone didn't quite get that chant here it is:

Allez, Allez, Allez Oh
Allez, Allez, Allez Oh
We're Everton F.C
Roberto's Blue Army!

Great report L:yndon. The thing that is really impressing me is how we are shutting out games at the end, keeping the ball well and generally not giving the opposition any chances. Great use of the substitutes by Martinez again and oh to have Lukaku here permanently, he's only going to get better.

Ian Bennett
124 Posted 27/10/2013 at 07:34:58
Good report Lyndon.

I think two things are interesting. Villa failed to register an effort on goal after 75 minutes when at 1-0. This a recurring theme.

And Villa complained their side “All too often our passes seem lazy, uncoordinated and nervous”. Again other non moneyed clubs are going to look at our place with a bit of envy.

This possession thing seems to be working. We are not merely hanging on at the moment like previously, whilst we seem to have the legs to hunt down if the ball is lost. Both are key to where we are.

The one thing that hasn't happened yet, is that we haven't put a team to the sword in the last 10 minutes, which I can see happening as the weaker sides clock up suspension, injury and fatigue.


Barry Rathbone
127 Posted 27/10/2013 at 07:30:52
Lyndon so glad you thought it a french connection I did wince at the "Franco ...." ref because Martinez was born in Catalonia!!!!!!

Any association with the fascist oppressor General Franco who starved, murdered and terrorised in the region banning the catalan language to boot is akin to describing the Irish via Oliver Cromwell and the butchery of Drogheda!

Nonetheless great report, great win.

Steve Cotton
174 Posted 27/10/2013 at 12:30:06
Ian 124... was their penalty effort going over when Howard got a strong left hand to it??
Brian Denton
181 Posted 27/10/2013 at 13:13:42
Lyndon, I bet you didn't expect The Spanish Inquisition....
Colin Glassar
184 Posted 27/10/2013 at 13:31:21
Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition Brian
Brent Stephens
192 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:05:47

Wasn't the Spanish Inquisition where they actually gave people notice that they would be "calling"? I thought I read that somewhere.

Brian Denton
196 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:25:35
Brent, I suspect you're a youngster! The reference was to a Monty Python sketch from many years ago...
Colin Glassar
200 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:32:38
I don't know which Brent I should answer.
Mike Gaynes
202 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:35:51
Lots of old Monty Python fans here.
Colin Glassar
204 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:38:08
I'm still pining for the fjords Mike.
Ross Edwards
205 Posted 27/10/2013 at 14:42:21
Yep, David Moyes's tactical processes are now history, he's off the twig, he's kicked the bucket, he's shuffled off to Man Utd, run down the M62 and joined the bleedin Red Devils! He is an EX-MANAGER!!!!!!!!
Brent Stephens
232 Posted 27/10/2013 at 15:33:04
Brian (#196) – I'm not so much a youngster; I really did watch from the Boy's Pen. (Bill K will vouch for that but I can't vouch for him.)

Yes, loved Monty P and the Spanish Inquisition But my post was serious - i.e. that I did read (I think) that a "suspect" would be given a period of notice (now that is pythonesque!).

ps: I work all day and I sleep all night but I don't wear high heels (well on a weekday).

Kevin Jones
321 Posted 27/10/2013 at 18:15:49
I'd love another verse of the Allez oh song. How about
Allez allez allez oh
Allez allez allez ee
Can't wait to see
Roberto's Blue Army
Brian Denton
327 Posted 27/10/2013 at 18:50:11
Brent 232 - much respect!
John Ford
329 Posted 27/10/2013 at 18:34:08
I was pleased with the look of the starting eleven yesterday, but we were second best for much of the first hour. Villa with Beneke are a handful. Unlike last week our two centre halves were outstanding and Tim saved our bacon in the first half. Keep that beard mate!

Villa ran out of ideas despite lots of the ball, then Bobby waved his magic wand. Perfection. Bish bosh bash and the game turned on its head.

Turning games like this around is surely a sign of a maturing manager? The team look like they're pulling for each other. I'm loving our ability to play football when we go ahead. I admired our former manager, but I'm starting to love waht Bobby is trying to do.

Mick Davies
409 Posted 27/10/2013 at 23:04:14
I think it's worth mentioning that we were AWAY at Villa, a ground where we usually come unstuck, but we played an attacking game for 90 mins and it's was the opposition who were worn down first and not us. This mentality is hard to comprehend after years of KITAP1 but long may it continue.

We are obviously going to lose games with this philosophy but it's more exciting and hopefully more successful than just waiting for something to happen. That's what Roberto's all about, his three main weapons are surprise and lack of fear.

Mark Pakulak
411 Posted 27/10/2013 at 21:38:31
Wonderful match recap Lyndon!
Peter Bourke
415 Posted 27/10/2013 at 23:46:00
Mick @409.

What's the third Weapon?? 1. Surprise; 2. Lack of Fear; 3. ??

I'll add it for you: Structure.

Harold Matthews
417 Posted 28/10/2013 at 00:13:14
Villa and Spurs are both best away from home.

Martinez keeps going on about getting to know players and partnerships and his canny substitutions appear to back this up. Whatever weaknesses we spot, he will be well ahead of us in seeking to put things right.

Thanks Christine.

The good ship sails on the alle alle ho.
The alle alle oh, the alle alle oh,
The good ship sails on the alle alle oh,
With Roberto's royal blue army.

Takes me back a bit.

Ron Sear
561 Posted 28/10/2013 at 17:10:12
Guess what, even the Norwegian Parrot was a blue.
David Chait
567 Posted 28/10/2013 at 17:16:42
Great report.. Reading the 3 together plus executioners bong gives a great insight to someone who hasn't had the privilege to see any of it.
Keith Glazzard
582 Posted 28/10/2013 at 17:43:25
Watching the game here in Catalunya I was obviously pleased that Tim did his job so well, but also noted that we could have been level, if not in the lead, by half time. And the second half just got better.

So is our favourite Catalan as good at using his forces as we hope? The Pienaar example was just too good to be true, but the Ossie injection looked astute - I was happy to see him come on, in a forward position, couldn't do any harm at least. The rest we all know.

Spain - Catalunya? Yes, a definite difference, think England - Scotland. La Senyera, the Catalan flag, has four red stripes (fingers of blood) running down a gold background. But look out for la Estralada, same flag with a blue, yes blue, triangle containing a white star. Its the independence movement's banner.

And Mick@409 - thanks, got it.

Brent Stephens
586 Posted 28/10/2013 at 18:52:48
Mick #409. Clever!
Conn Prosser
594 Posted 28/10/2013 at 19:01:11
Keep It And Score 2.
Mick Davies
595 Posted 28/10/2013 at 19:25:10
Thanks lads, obviously Peter is not a Python afficianado. As for the Norwegian Blue, surely it's a Norwegian Red?
Conn Prosser
596 Posted 28/10/2013 at 19:26:32
Max Wilson
190 Posted 31/10/2013 at 14:28:09
Er, do you have to very very lucky to manage a masterstroke? Cos we were very very lucky to get through the first half. Sorry, but it's true, isn't it?Mind you, you can make your own luck. Bringing on Ossie was great but if you were influenced by us lot, you might not have 'cos the guy had been getting a lot of stick from many of us. (But not me, I'm perfect...)
Mick Davies
455 Posted 01/11/2013 at 23:45:18
This talk of "luck" is something that both baffles and irritates when used to describe events during football matches. Managers usually hide behind this strange phenomenon when they don't do well i.e. "we didn't get the luck today", but this could be a double edged-sword. Take the first half, when we were unluckily penalised for an innocuous challenge, but were lucky the resulting penalty was saved. Then Villa were lucky when Weimann was yards offside but Howard was again lucky to save with his legs.

In my opinion, he only made two "legitimate" saves in the game, but isn't this his job? When we were successful in the 80s we had the worlds best keeper; as was the case with Man Utd in the 90s. Great keepers don't get noticed if they have nothing to do so the proof is, successful teams need a good keeper, not a lucky one. Howard is a good shot stopper but other parts of his game leave room for improvement; with his new coach, I hope he can work on his weaknesses and overcome his aversion to crosses.

I have faith in the manager and the team and hope that – with or without luck – we can achieve something this season, and build on it.

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