REPORT: Southampton 3-0 Everton
Saints returned to winning ways with a 3-0 success over Everton with three different scorers at St Mary’s.
Ronald Koeman’s men were the better team for much of this game, and they backed that up with a complete performance to give the perfect response to their recent slump in form.
Romelu Lukaku’s 37th minute own goal was reward for a strike which had been coming for the hosts, and as soon as that went in, Saints never looked back in a game that they completed in the second half.
Graziano Pellè doubled the lead on 65 minutes when he poked home a knockdown from the impressive Shane Long, and Maya Yoshida sealed the victory with eight minutes to go when he picked a prime moment to notch his first ever goal at St Mary’s.
The team’s first clean sheet since the 2-0 win over Leicester City contributed to the win which keeps Saints in fifth place in the Premier League table.
Saints were without the suspended tri of Florin Gardos, Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama for the game, while Dušan Tadić was rested after picking up a couple of knocks.
It was therefore a first Premier League start for Harrison Reed in midfield alongside Steven Davis and James Ward-Prowse, while youngsters Jason McCarthy, Sam McQueen, Dominic Gape and Ryan Seager were named amongst the substitutes.
The hosts started the game at a high tempo with Shane Long and Graziano Pellè leading the front line which immediately tried to unsettle the Everton defending the Northam stand.
The Saints duo were at the heart of the early endeavour from Ronald Koeman’s men, with Pellè having the first chance from inside the area when he headed over from Nathaniel Clyne’s cross on eleven minutes.
Strike partner Long was heavily involved in the final third, but also at the centre of some frustrating decisions by referee Jon Moss, who first, missed a shove on the Irishman just outside of the area, and then saw Everton captain Phil Jagielka’s kick on him inside the area go unpunished.
Long had also been penalised after teeing up Pellè for a strike which was disallowed, but those near-misses for the visitors were finally put right on 37 minutes when James Ward-Prowse’s corner from the left was headed into his own net by Romelu Lukaku under pressure from José Fonte for a deserved 1-0 lead.
Saints has a chance to double their advantage four minutes later when Bertrand played Pellè in at the near post, but the Italian’s strike crashed into the side-netting.
A half in which the hosts had kept Everton quiet ended with Saints in control and on course to end their recent run of defeats.
The hosts maintained their momentum into the second-half with Ward-Prowse and Long continuing to cause Everton problems, with Jagielka in particular struggling to keep up with the latter.
The sustained pressure drew the game’s second goal on 65 minutes when from Nathaniel Clyne’s cross, Long headed the ball down and Pellè was on hand to poke it through Howard’s legs for 2-0 from eight yards out.
Toffees keeper Tim Howard made a superb save to deny a header from José Fonte three minutes later, as Saints went back on the offensive, with Clyne also flashing a strike wide soon after.
Everton ventured forward to win a free-kick when Ross Barkley was upended by Fonte, which saw the Saints man collect his fifth yellow card of the season, but the resulting set-piece crashed into the wall, before Besic fired wide on the follow up.
Lukaku then struck a blistering shot which was palmed away by Forster before Saints sealed their first win in seven matches with a collector’s item from Maya Yoshida, who headed home Steven Davis’s cross to make it 3-0 with eight minutes remaining.
Dominic Gape made his first league appearance for Saints by replacing Long with two minutes remaining, with the hosts seeing out their win after the midfielder became the fourth player from the club’s academy to feature in this success.
Southampton team: Fraser Forster, Nathaniel Clyne, José Fonte (c), Toby Alderweireld, Maya Yoshida, Ryan Bertrand, Harrison Reed, Steven Davis, James Ward-Prowse (Matt Targett 79), Shane Long (Dominic Gape 88), Graziano Pellè
Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Jason McCarthy, Sam McQueen, Ryan Seager, Sadio Mané
Booked: Fonte (72)
Goals: Lukaku (O.G) (37), Pellè (65), Yoshida (82)
Everton team: Tim Howard, Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka (c), Sylvain Distin, Leighton Baines, Gareth Barry, Muhamed Besic, Ross Barkley. Steven Naismith, Samuel Eto’o, Romelu Lukaku
Unused substitutes: Joel Robles, Aiden McGeady, Arouna Koné, Steven Pienaar, John Stones, Luke Garbutt, Antolin Alcaraz
Booked: Besic (67)
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Attendance: 31,475 (including 2,553 away)