Birmingham - Aston Villa were pushed closer
to the relegation trapdoor on Tuesday as the Premier League's bottom club
slumped to a miserable 3-1 defeat against Everton.
Remi Garde's troubled side were crushed by
goals from Ramiro Funes Mori, Aaron Lennon and Romelu Lukaku as they
surrendered in front of their furious fans at Villa Park.
Villa's fourth defeat in their last five
league matches was played out against the dispiriting backdrop of a 74th minute
walkout from supporters in protest at their club's humiliating decline.
Villa last played in the second tier in
1988 but they remain eight points from safety and with games against Manchester
City, Tottenham and Chelsea still to come this month, their fate could
effectively be sealed before Easter.
Everton's victory - their fifth in their
last six games in all competitions - was the ideal way to welcome Iranian
billionaire Farhad Moshiri, whose muti-million pound arrival as majority
shareholder over the weekend has raised hopes of an exciting new chapter in the
Villa's last home game had ended in their
worst defeat at Villa Park for 81 years as Liverpool romped to a 6-0 victory
that prompted Garde to question his players' commitment.
There was little reason for Garde to
rethink that criticism after another lacklustre display against a team from
Villa's problems began in the fifth minute
when Everton capitalised on woeful defending to take the lead.
An Everton corner should have been dealt
with easily by the Villa rear-guard, but they made a hash of it and Funes Mori
was left completely unmarked to smash home from close-range.
Villa fans have grown increasingly mutinous
in recent weeks as they see relegation looming large at the end of a dismal
campaign and they had held up banners calling for the board to sell up before
Funes Mori's goal did little to improve
their mood and jeers and abuse was cascading down from the stands towards Garde
and his team.
Villa briefly sparked into life when
Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles made saves to deny Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley
Micah Richards fired narrowly wide moments
later and Leandro Bacuna saw his effort kept out by Robles, but Villa's
pressure proved a false dawn and Everton doubled their lead in the 30th minute.
Ruthlessly exposing Villa's fragile
defence, the visitors broke with speed and purpose as Ross Barkley released
Kevin Mirallas and the Belgian teed up former Tottenham winger Lennon to finish
from close range for his fourth goal in his last six appearances.
Villa were in complete turmoil and Brad
Guzan couldn't hold a Mirallas shot, with Bryan Oviedo's follow-up cleared off
the line by Richards.
When Villa won a rare corner, ironic cheers
rang out from the disillusioned fans.
But by the 60th minute the stands were more
than half empty as Villa fans streamed to the exits following Everton's third
Funes Mori was allowed to cross far too
easily and Belgium striker Lukaku stuck out his leg to divert it past Guzan for
his 22nd of the season.
In a fitting coda to the evening, more of
Villa's fans departed in protest with 16 minutes left, so when Rudy Gestede got
one back with a 79th minute header, there was hardly anyone left to see it.