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BIRMINGHAM – Steven Gerrard won his first managerial clash with former England teammate Frank Lampard as Aston Villa beat Everton 2-1 to get off the mark in the Premier League.
Goals from Danny Ings and Emi Buendia eased the pressure on Gerrard after a run of two wins in their previous 12 games dating back to last season.
However, Villa had to survive a nervy finish as Lucas Digne s own goal gave Everton hope before Emi Martinez denied Anthony Gordon an equaliser in stoppage time.
“I always expected when we conceded that sloppy goal that there would be a bit of nervousness towards the end. That was a big test of our character and resilience and we managed to stay firm,” said Gerrard.
“We did enough to get over the line and I think we deserved the win.”
Gerrard was in the firing line after a 2-0 defeat to newly-promoted Bournemouth on the opening weekend of the season.
The former Liverpool captain had also controversially dropped Tyrone Mings last weekend after stripping the England centre-back of the club captaincy.
Mings was restored at the heart of the Villa defence, but their problems defending set-pieces persisted.
Lampard s men are badly missing the presence of the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin up front, but were a constant threat from dead balls.
The Toffees did had the ball in the net midway through the first-half when Gordon pressured Matty Cash into slicing the ball into his own goal after Villa failed to clear a corner. However, Gordon was flagged offside.
Moments later, Villa came up with one of the few moments of quality in a scrappy game affected by the baking temperatures that have seen water breaks introduced for all game in the Premier League this weekend.
Ollie Watkins return to the starting line-up was the other Villa change made by Gerrard and his run down the right stretched the Everton defence before Ings spun onto his strike partner s cross and smashed the ball low past Jordan Pickford.
Watkins was the creator again for Villa s second as a one-two with Buendia gave the Argentine a tap-in to seemingly secure the points five minutes from time.
But two minutes later, debutant Amadou Onana s powerful run and cross forced Digne into scoring an own goal against his old club.
Everton will feel they should have then snatched a point in a frantic finale as Martinez saved Gordon s mishit effort and Mings justified his place by preventing Salomon Rondon from turning in the rebound.
Martinez was needed again seven minutes into stoppage time to trap a more powerful effort from Gordon, but Villa clung on to leave Everton still looking for their first point of the season.
“We should ve got a draw,” said Lampard. “We had two or three really good chances at the end of the game which leaves you with a bad feeling.”
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