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Lukaku wins battle of Belgium as Saints march on

ESPN staff
October 26, 2013 « Van Persie returns for United | Chartbeat test »
Romelu Lukaku was instrumental in the battle of the Belgium strikers at Villa Park © Getty Images
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Everton continued their strong start under Roberto Martinez as they ran out 2-0 winners at Aston Villa.

In what is deemed English football's most played fixture, Paul Lambert's side were given the opportunity of a perfect start when Seamus Coleman hauled down Christian Benteke in the box, leaving referee Anthony Taylor no option but to point to the spot.

However, Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard dived high to his right to push Benteke's effort over the crossbar in spectacular fashion.

Howard, sporting an impressive beard, was called into action again shortly after as Benteke raced clean through, but the American once again thwarted the striker before denying Andreas Weimann with a fine challenge on the edge of the penalty area.

Everton responded through their Belgian powerhouse; Romelu Lukaku rising highest to connect with Coleman's cross, but Brad Guzan expertly tipped Lukaku's header wide before Ross Barkley saw his effort clip the woodwork.

However, it was only fitting for a Belgian to break the deadlock in Birmingham. Leon Osman found Lukaku in plenty of space on the edge of the area and the on-loan man made no mistake in drilling in from 16 yards for his fifth goal in as many games.

Osman wrapped up the points in the final ten minutes, finding the bottom corner with his effort after being expertly teed up by former Villa midfielder Gareth Barry.

Elsewhere, Norwich and Cardiff were only separated by a point prior to kick-off at Carrow Road, and it stayed that way as they played out an entertaining goalless draw.

Steven Caulker almost had the away side in front during a relatively even first half, the defender heading wide from six yards out.

However, Norwich grew in stature and created a host of chances following lengthy spells of possession. Robert Snodgrass could not find the target when eight yards out, while Jonny Howson and Leroy Fer were both denied.

After the break, Gary Hooper - making his full Premier League debut at Carrow Road - could not convert with his header before Nathan Redmond's powerful effort was well saved by ex-Norwich goalkeeper David Marshall.

Marshall brilliantly denied Fer late on as Malky Mackay's men somehow survived a scramble in their own box, before Norwich controversially had a late goal ruled out.

Fer blasted into an empty net from a throw-in given for a Cardiff injury, but referee Michael Jones ruled the effort out as both teams remain firmly in the bottom half of the table.

Southampton showed no signs of letting up their superb start to the season as they moved up to third in the Premier League table with a 2-0 home win over Fulham in the late kick-off.

Mauricio Pochettino's side have yet to lose at St Mary's this campaign and that record looked to stay intact when Rickie Lambert was left unmarked to head in a corner for their opener.

Lambert was denied a second minutes later when his low effort crashed off the post, but the home team soon doubled their lead when Jay Rodriguez converted following good work from his strike partner.

Fulham offered little in terms of a response, particularly after the break, as the Saints closed out victory in impressive fashion to continue their march up the table.

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