Plenty of questions were left unanswered as Everton's defender watched in horror after Ashley Young's centre skidded off his head and into the net, with Tim Howard flapping hopelessly, to give Aston Villa a point.
Such a dramatic conclusion was, perhaps to be expected. Villa and Everton served up two treats last season, and the result was in doubt until the end last night.
Two Tim Cahill headers had sandwiched Gabby Agbonlahor's 50th Villa goal, but the hosts hit back to boost their hopes of qualifying for Europe.
Despairing dive: Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard cannot stop the injury-time own goal from Phil Jagielka (out of picture)
It was of little comfort to Martin O'Neill or David Moyes, wholamented poor defending, missed chances and gave begrudging respect totheir opponents.
This was a chance for Villa to banish the blues after the heartacheof their FA Cup semi-final defeat at Wembley four days earlier. But,with a run-in that does not appear too taxing, they still cannot bediscounted from the top-four fight.
Manager O'Neill said: 'It was a great spectacle, as a lot of ourgames against Everton seem to be. We certainly deserved our equaliser.We should have been in front by half-time. Instead we find ourselveshaving to chase the game.
'We have conceded two poor goals. A point really doesn't suit either side.
'To give ourselves a proper chance of the Champions League, we nowneed to win all of our remaining five matches, which is a tall order.'
Two good: Tim Cahill struck twice at Villa Park
For Everton this was a chance to haul in Villa and stake a claim to a place in Europe that has become the norm under Moyes.
A helter-skelter first half brought chances at both ends. O'Neilljumped up and down at the award of the free-kick that led to theopener, although replays suggested the officials got it right by awarding a foul by Stephen Warnock on Leon Osman.
Leighton Baines, whom Opta statistics point up as one of the topchance creators in the Barclays Premier League, provided the perfectcross that required the faintest touch off the Australian's head.
That's not to say the goal was deserved. Everton were slick butVilla the more threatening at that point. One Howard save from a CarlosCuellar header was breath-taking.
But, as the game entered the final quarter, the hosts' fluency wasdeserting them. They finally gained a foothold when Agbonlahor drewthem level with his 15th goal of the season.
Heading in the right direction: Gabriel Agbonlahor (second left) levels for the hosts
Cuellar did well to find James Milner, whose 72nd-minute cross was headed in by his England colleague.
It was another goal that owed a lot to the quality of the cross, andMilner's performance in his eighth game in 32 days was described byO'Neill as 'extraordinary'.
But two minutes after Villa drew level, they were trailing again.Richard Dunne's last-ditch block prevented Leon Osman from getting inbut, from the corner, Villa again failed to pick up Cahill, whosesuperb powerful and well-directed header gave home keeper Brad Friedellittle chance.
Everton were denied a second win at Villa Park in 21 years whenYoung swung over a cross from the right and Jagielka's head did therest.
Everton manager Moyes appeared calm before the press, although hisinsides must have been churning. During the five minutes of added timePhil Neville's cross-shot went within a whisker of turning one pointinto three.
Off the mark: Tim Cahill (centre) leaves Brad Friedel static as he nods Everton ahead
MATCH REPORTS ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Friedel 6; Cuellar 7, Collins 6, Dunne 6, Warnock 6 (Delfouneso 78); A Young 6, Milner 9, Petrov 6, Downing 6; Agbonlahor 6, Carew 6.
Booked: Milner, Petrov.
EVERTON (4-3-3): Howard 7; Neville 7, Jagielka 7, Distin 7, Baines 6; Osman 7, Heitinga 6 (Rodwell 50, 6), Cahill 8; Pienaar 7, Yakubu 6 (Saha 63, 6), Bilyaletdinov 6 (Yobo 89).
Booked: Cahill, Howard.
Man of the match: James Milner.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
He said: 'I thought we played well and Villa played well. At 2-1, wehad a couple of chances to seal it and I thought we had done enough tosee us over the line.
'I've seen the still television pictures of Villa's second goal.John Carew is standing just offside when the ball is crossed. It's adifficult one for the referee and his assistant but it's what he does.
'Tim Howard feels partly responsible for it. But he shouldn't. He made two or three exceptional saves in the first-half.
'I'd like to qualify for Europe because I think this football clubcan carry it. I think if I'm to continue the development of this clubthat we need it. It is important to attract players as well. It'scertainly something we think worthy of fighting for.'
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Explore more:People:John Carew, Tim Cahill, James Milner, Leon Osman, Richard Dunne, Martin Atkinson, David Moyes, Ashley YoungPlaces:United Kingdom, Europe