Goalkeepers Jordan Pickford and Emiliano Martinez contributed significantly to Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery’s first goalless draw in 97 Premier League games.
The point meant Villa could not overtake Manchester City and move level on points with leaders Liverpool. It did little for Everton, who are just one ahead of 18th-placed Luton, who still have a game in hand, but at least ended a run of three consecutive league defeats.
Much of this was down to Pickford, who made good saves from Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins, while Martinez made his presence known by stopping Dominic Calvert-Lewin and, in quick succession, James Garner from clearing the net.
But while the two goalkeepers were in top form at Goodison Park, the men leading their respective attacks were less so.
Calvert-Lewin has not scored in 13 games and after failing to capitalize on Everton’s best chance, he was substituted just after the hour mark after failing to end a run dating back to October.
Watkins’ battle with James Tarkowski was more exciting but ultimately just as unsuccessful as Villa’s 15 shots failed to produce a goal.
This was the 212th league meeting between the two – a record in England’s national team history – and in the later stages that familiarity sparked some contempt as the players faced off against each other on several occasions.
Everton captain Seamus Coleman was making his 355th Premier League appearance, a new club record, and although the £60,000 signing from Sligo may have enjoyed a clean slate in 2009, there was little else to celebrate about his breakthrough game.
Arnaut Danjuma miserably missed an early volley from Jack Harrison’s cross and while the return of Abdoulaye Doucoure after five games made a big difference, Villa looked more constructive in the final third.
Watkins’ angled shot was blocked by Pickford’s knee and although the goalkeeper was beaten by a 20-yard shot from Alex Moreno, a lengthy VAR review ruled that Bailey, who played the final pass, was offside in the build-up to a short corner was standing.
Pickford’s quick reactions redirected Bailey’s shot around his near post before Martinez proved he could match the England number one when it came to saves.
Danjuma’s through ball with the outside of his right foot was the perfect invitation for Calvert-Lewin to burst through, but he never looked confident, which is perhaps understandable given his dry spell.
The striker, who was given a reprieve when his red card was canceled at Crystal Palace earlier this week, was not given the same leniency by the Argentine World Cup winner, who stuck out a foot to block the low shot when anything off the turf would have lifted him Definitely beaten.
Martinez then made a similarly good stop from Garner deep to his left as he moved to his right in the breakdown following the Calvert-Lewin attack.
Incidents in the goal area were rarer in an increasingly fractious second half as referee David Coote struggled to get to grips with a series of strong tackles, including several from an excited Tarkowski.
When Danjuma shot wide after Harrison’s run down the right, it was his – and Calvert-Lewin’s – last appearance.
Vitalii Mykolenko’s diving block smothered a late Matty Cash shot, whose cross was then deflected narrowly wide by the slipping Jhon Duran before Doucoure beat Martinez at his near post but was denied by an offside flag.