Everton departed the second city with all three points after earning a hard-fought victory over Aston Villa.

An Anna Patten own goal put Brian Sorensen's side in front, but Rachel Daly equalised two minutes later. Nathalie Bjorn made no mistake from twelve yards to seal the points and help her side leapfrog Sunday's opponents in the table.

  • Story of the game

A feisty ninety minutes was juxtaposed by the freezing conditions at Villa Park.

The shortage of action prior to the interval was made up for by the non-stop second half, where both sides threatened throughout.

Early on, the hosts came closest as Clare Wheeler played a clumsy backpass to Megan Finnigan that was intercepted by Rachel Daly who raced at goal. Unable to pull the trigger, she played it off to the advancing Kenza Dali, who failed to find the corner of the net and watched her effort be caught comfortably.

The Villains should have opened the scoring in the 34th minute when Daly was found six yards out by Adriana Leon. The England international slid in to prevent a clearance, winning the ball back on the edge of the box. It fell to Jordan Nobbs, who played in Leon down the right-hand side of the area. Challenged by Katrine Veje, she quickly released a pinpoint low cross into the path of the forward, who froze with the ball at her feet and floated a golden opportunity into the palms of a relieved Courtney Brosnan.

With four minutes of the first half remaining, Katja Snoeijs latched on to a headed clearance from Justine Vanhaevermaet and seemed to be through on goal. The claret and blue backline sprinted back and did well to catch up with the advancing forward. Villa Park fell silent as the 27-year-old cut in and sat down her marker. With only the ‘keeper to beat from a tight angle, her powerful strike stung the palms of Daphne Van Domselaar, who tipped the ball over the upright.

The visitors broke the deadlock in the 54th minute through a fortunate deflection after a lofted ball into the box troubled the Villa defence. Sara Holmgaard met it at the back-post and sent the ball back across the face of goal, where it deflected off Anna Patten and slowly crept over the white chalk line.

Two minutes later the scores were even again as last season’s top scorer, Rachel Daly, notched her fourth of the campaign. Kirsty Hanson drove down the left wing and fired in a low cross to the perfectly placed poacher who tapped in at the near-post to equalise immediately after falling behind.

Bjorn from the spot (Photo by Catherine Ivill via Getty Images)
Bjorn from the spot (Photo by Catherine Ivill via Getty Images)

In the 74th minute, Nathalie Bjorn converted from 12 yards on her return to give the Toffees the advantage once more. Heather Payne was brought down by Hanson, who left a leg sticking out after the Ireland international skipped past her inside the area.

In the dying moments, Brosnan did well to deny Carla Ward's side a late equaliser. Alisha Lehmann was played in and attempted to dink the outrushing 'keeper from close range. The shot-stopper read it like a book, leaving the Villa faithful dreaming of what could have been.

The referee blew her whistle after a dramatic six minutes of injury time to conclude an exhilarating tie.

  • Player of the match

Rachel Daly led the line excellently for the hosts, holding the ball up well and was the focal point of every Villa attack.

She got herself on the scoresheet in the 56th minute and was a handful for the Everton defence throughout.

Now firing on all cylinders, the England international will have her eyes set on a consecutive Golden Boot and is definitely going about it the right way.

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