Monday 27 January 2020

Silver lining for Seamus

Aston Villa 2 Everton 0

HEART: Aston Villa striker Wesley celebrates his goal. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
HEART: Aston Villa striker Wesley celebrates his goal. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' rang out at the end as Aston Villa got their first win of the season and maybe if Seamus Coleman took a drink he might resort to a glass of red, red wine to get over this one.

Coleman doesn't do revenge. It's not the Republic of Ireland captain's style. Here, leading Everton into battle on the occasion of his 251st Premier League appearance, he was not going to make this about him and old foe Neil Taylor.

This was the first time the two shared a pitch since the Aston Villa full-back inflicted a double leg break on Coleman while on duty for Wales at the Aviva Stadium in a World Cup qualifier.

That was March 2017, when a Dublin crowd was left stunned by the horrific tackle. Here, on a balmy Friday night in Birmingham with three points up for grabs and the chance to go top of the table, Coleman was all business, although he was shown a yellow card for a late show of frustration as the game slipped away and he lashed the ball at Villa's Trézéguet.

Prior to kick-off he was composure personified as he looked Taylor in the eye, gave him a nod and gripped his hand without malice during the pre-match handshakes.

The double leg fracture is old news as far as Coleman is concerned, so this was certainly no grudge match. He turns 31 in October and has moved on. And what a joy it was to see him maraud up and down the Everton right flank during the early stages of his 11th season across the water.

It bodes well for Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifier with Switzerland next month that the skipper looks as energised as ever.

But he will wake up this morning feeling sore about the manner of this defeat - Anwar El Ghazi's injury-time strike adding insult to injury.

Villa's opening goal was the first Everton conceded this season and meant there would be no 75th clean sheet of his Toffees career for Coleman. Villa's record signing, the £22million striker Wesley, sprinted across the face of Michael Keane to latch on to Jota's superb eye of a needle pass.

Coleman screamed a warning of the run but it was too late, Villa were ahead in the 22nd minute.

Conor Hourihane watched his Villa replacement, Douglas Luiz, appear both brilliant and befuddled as the anchor of the home side's midfield. Patience will be key for Hourihane in his bid to reclaim his spot.

Jack Grealish saved the Brazilian with bleached blonde cornrows the embarrassment of having the worst haircut and this win also brings to an end the former Ireland Under-21 star's unwanted record of 20 consecutive Premier League defeats.

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