July 16, 2020 / 7:11 PM / 18 days ago

Late Walcott header hits Villa survival hopes

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Aston Villa suffered a devastating blow in their battle for Premier League survival when Theo Walcott headed a late equaliser to earn Everton a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park on Thursday.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Everton v Aston Villa - Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain - July 16, 2020 Everton's Theo Walcott scores their first goal, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pool via REUTERS/Dave Thompson

After a cagey first half, Villa scored with the game’s first attempt on target as centre back Ezri Konsa latched on to a Conor Hourihane free kick in the 72nd minute.

Everton struggled to create goalscoring opportunities until Portuguese midfielder Andre Gomes’s cross found the diminutive Walcott who headed home three minutes from time.

“The lads are devastated in the dressing room because we deserved more out of the game,” Villa manager Dean Smith said.

“I thought in the last eight minutes we got a bit sloppy on the ball and didn’t take as much pressure off ourselves as we needed to.”

Smith was unimpressed by Villa’s lack of composure in the closing stages, with forward Anwar El Ghazi smashing the ball over the crossbar from close range.

“It was one that probably should’ve gone into the back of the net, but it doesn’t and unfortunately they went up the other end and score,” Smith said.

“I think Theo’s trying to head it back across goal which makes it even more disappointing.”

The result left Villa 19th in the table, three points adrift of the safety zone, having played a game more than 17th-placed Watford.

They face Arsenal at Villa Park on Tuesday before finishing the season against fellow strugglers West Ham United.

Everton extended their winless run to four league matches to stay 11th in the table, having failed to mount a challenge for European qualification spots since the league resumed last month.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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