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Aston Villa's English defender Matty Cash and French defender Lucas Digne lie on the ground after being struck by a bottle thrown from the crowd during their goal celebrations in the English Premier League football match against Everton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England. Image Credit: AFP

Liverpool: Everton’s first match of the post-Rafa Benitez era began with a 1-0 Premier League defeat by Aston Villa today amid a tense atmosphere at Goodison Park where the visiting team were hit by missiles thrown from the crowd.

A lively first half ended with Emiliano Buendia scoring with a flicked header that arced over Jordan Pickford in goal and the provocative celebrations led to a bottle being launched from the stands and hitting the Villa players.

Lucas Digne, who was booed by Everton fans on his return to Goodison Park since last week’s transfer, provided the assist and he was also hit by an object, with stewards and police trying to identify the perpetrators.

Duncan Ferguson, in interim charge at Everton for a second time after his brief caretaker stint in 2019, had asked his players to show “fight and determination” but scoring opportunities were in short supply in the first half.

Delightful cross

Winger Anthony Gordon’s introduction greatly improved Everton’s attack in the second half but his team mates failed to convert his delightful crosses into the box as Villa held on to provisionally move up to 10th with 26 points.

Everton are 16th on 19 points, five points above the relegation zone, having secured one league win since September.

Their sorry state was highlighted by a banner flown over the stadium with the words “22 years of failure Bill”, aimed at club chairman Bill Kenwright.