Villarreal spoiled Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial – running out 2-1 winners against an Everton side that featured the club’s former striker Wayne Rooney as a late substitute.
Ferguson – who scored 72 goals in 273 games across two spells for the club – was introduced for the final seven minutes of Sunday’s friendly at Goodison Park shortly after Manchester United star Rooney came off the bench.
Rooney’s reception included boos and cheers from the home crowd – many on Merseyside still unhappy at the manner of his exit to United in 2004 – while Ferguson was treated to a rapturous welcome.
The pair played together during Rooney’s first-team debut in 2002, but reunited the duo failed to haul Everton back after Gerard and Matias Nahuel put the Spanish side in control.
Tyias Browning handed Everton hope, but Roberto Martinez’s side failed to give their former striking hero a win ahead of the side’s Premier League opener against Watford on Saturday.
Despite the hosts enjoying the better of the opening half hour, Everton fell behind to Gerard’s close-range finish eight minutes from the break.
An outswinging corner was flicked on by Leo Baptistao to allow Gerard to convert from inside the penalty area – Leighton Baines and Leon Osman having lost their men in the box.
Ross Barkley was among those introduced at the break, but Everton continued to lack a cutting edge in the final third.
That was punished shortly after the hour when Nahuel outmuscled Seamus Coleman before clipping the ball over Tim Howard.
Steven Naismith went close twice before Chelsea target John Stones appeared to pick up a knock.
Rooney came on for the final 16 minutes to a mixed reception from the Goodison Park crowd and smashed a shot wide prior to Ferguson’s introduction.
Browning headed home from a corner to reduce the arrears, with Ferguson failing to connect with another set-piece soon after as Villarreal held firm for the victory.