Everton 1-2 Aston Villa: Dali and Salmon see visitors leap level on points with sixth-placed Spurs

With only one victory across seven home Barclays Women’s Super League matches this season – losing five of those said games – Everton manager Brian Sørensen made two changes from the defeat at Manchester City as club captain Megan Finnigan and Italian striker Martina Piemonte returned to the hosts’ starting lineup.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa welcomed back Adriana Leon following her success at the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup with Canada, where she was awarded the Golden Boot after scoring six goals in five matches.

EVE: Brosnan; Stenevik, Finnigan, Vanhaevermaet, Galli; Hope; Snoeijs, Kühl, Bennison, Wheeler; Piemonte

AVL: Leat; Patten, Turner, Maritz; Pacheco, Mayling, Nobbs, Dali; Daly, Salmon, Leon

Hoping to avenge last season’s Barclays Women’s Super League defeat, in which Aston Villa ran out 2-0 winners at Walton Hall Park, Everton dominated an unparalleled early attacking bombardment on goal as Anna Leat did well to save Hanna Bennison’s ambitious effort from distance.

Patiently awaiting their first shot of the afternoon, the visitors eventually managed to call Courtney Brosnan into action shortly before the half-hour mark as the returning Leon fired a fierce close-range volley straight at the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper. Those two chances ultimately turned out to be the only notable moments of a lacklustre first half as both sides fought an intense battle for an ascendancy in the middle of the park.

Villa brought the game to life in the second half as firstly Leon’s brilliant back-heel allowed Kenza Dali to fire a sensational low strike from just outside of the area past Brosnan at her near post for her first goal in the WSL this season. Things then went from bad to worse for the hosts less than five minutes later, as Ebony Salmon brilliantly headed home Jordan Nobbs’ instinctive delivery to double the Villans’ advantage.

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Everton defender Elise Stenevik set up a stressful final six minutes of regular time – plus the same amount of added-on time – for Carla Ward’s side as she made her way up from the back to head Aurora Galli’s floated delivery in the area past the onrushing Leat.

However, despite a few concerning moments – amid Stenevik seeing red for her second yellow card – Villa valiantly absorbed any incoming pressure to move level on points with Tottenham Hotspur in sixth position. Meanwhile, Everton remain in 10th, but still eight points above Bristol City, who occupy the sole relegation position.