Lukaku and Osman score the goals but Tim Howard superb in goal too
Leon Osman came off the bench to inspire Everton FC to victory at Villa Park and propel Roberto Martinez’s side back into the top four.
Osman, who had been left out of the staring line-up, laid on the 68th-minute opener from Romelu Lukaku before netting the clinching second nine minutes from time.
Everton had been indebted to a superb penalty save from Tim Howard to keep out Christian Benteke’s eighth-minute effort.
But the Goodison outfit continued their excellent start under Martinez to secure only their second win in 13 away Premier League games.
Lukaku’s goal was his fifth in as many top-flight appearances, with Everton having posed an improved performance after the interval following an underwhelming first-half showing.
Before the game, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke and Sir Philip Carter of Everton presented special commemorative plaques to the two captains as part of the FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations at the most-played fixture in English football.
Martinez made one change from the side that eventually saw off Hull City last weekend, with matchwinner Steven Pienaar earning a starting role at the expense of Osman.
Although inconsistent, Villa had already beaten Arsenal and Manchester City this season. And Everton were thankful for Howard to stay level after a lively opening from the home side.
Benteke raced on to a lofted pass down the inside left channel only for his heels to be clipped by the chasing Seamus Coleman.
It was a soft but understandable decision for referee Anthony Taylor to point to the spot. Howard, though, guessed the correct way, dived to his right and thrust out his left hand to divert Benteke’s penalty over the crossbar.
Howard was soon busy again. From a well-worked Villa break, Aleksandar Tonev played Benteke clear but the Belgian’s finish was too close to the Everton goalkeeper.
Then, despite appearing yards offside, Andreas Weimann sprinted behind the away defence but this time Howard was alert to race from his line and smother the danger.
That appeared to spark a lethargic Everton into life and they subsequently enjoyed their best period of the half.
On 26 minutes, Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan produced a fine point-blank range stop to repel Lukaku’s header from a Coleman right-wing cross.
But Guzan could only watch and hope as Ross Barkley’s deflected 25-yard shot beat his despairing dive and crashed against the top of the crossbar.
Lukaku’s pace and power saw him then barge beyond Antonio Luna and Ron Vlaar but his eventual shot was underhit and allowed Guzan and the Villa defence to scramble the ball clear.
Kevin Mirallas then raced down the right flank and turned Nathan Baker inside out before the Villa centre-back recovered sufficiently to block his goalbound angled drive.
After the open nature of the first half, the game was a more cat-and-mouse affair after the interval with both sides tightening up at the back.
Everton, though, found a way through on 68 minutes. A swift exchange of passes between Pienaar and Leighton Baines down the left allowed substitute Osman to play in Lukaku, who side-footed beyond Guzan.
Gabriel Agbonlahor wasted a fine chance to equalise when firing weakly at Howard after being found unmarked by Weimann.
And the game was made safe by Everton nine minutes from time. A short corner by Baines found former Villa man Gareth Barry, and his pull back to the edge of the area was met by Osman who swept the ball first-time into Guzan’s bottom right corner with his left foot.
ASTON VILLA (4-2-3-1): Guzan; Bacuna, Baker, Vlaar, Luna (Clark 45); Westwood, Delph; Tonev (Helenius 77), Agbonlahor, Weimann; Benteke. Subs: Steer, El Hamadi, Sylla, Kozak, Lowton.
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Barry, McCarthy; Mirallas (Deulofeu 90), Barkley (Osman 60), Pienaar (Naismith 80); Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Jelavic, Oviedo, Stones. BOOKINGS: McCarthy (foul) and Howard (timewasting).
REFEREE: Anthony Taylor.