James Ward-Prowse chalked up a half-century of Southampton goals in style, as Saints came from behind to register a first Premier League win at Goodison Park since 1997.
Trailing to Amadou Onana’s header from a corner six minutes before the interval, Saints showed their strength of character to respond immediately after half time.
Ward-Prowse kept his cool to level the scores within a minute of the restart with his 50th goal for the club, before a trademark free-kick turned the game on its head 12 minutes from time.
It’s a third win in a week for Saints, each coming in different competitions, as the positive momentum continues to build under new manager Nathan Jones.
Jones made three changes to his side, all in attack, as Mohamed Elyounoussi, Samuel Edozie and Ché Adams came into the side.
Both goalscorers from Wednesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final triumph over Man City, Sékou Mara and Moussa Djenepo, dropped to the bench, along with Adam Armstrong, as Jones started with a back four with Kyle Walker-Peters at left-back.
Saints settled to their task well, controlling much of the early possession, but Everton showed flashes of intent when the ball was turned over.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s tame header was easily caught by Gavin Bazunu, while Onana’s long strides took him away from Roméo Lavia, who was booked inside 14 minutes for dragging him down.
Saints were still yet to register an attempt at goal, and it was the home fans getting excited when Vitalii Mykolenko’s clever pass found Demarai Gray in the box, but the winger’s first touch was fractionally heavy, forcing him wide and to shoot off target with the ball running away from goal.
Saints’ best chance to date was actually passed up by Ward-Prowse, who might have shot himself but instead picked out Elyounoussi, whose position was less inviting and whose shot was subsequently blocked.
Ward-Prowse, being utilised as a No 10, was involved again in a similar area, again seeking Elyounoussi, this time to his right, who this time pulled the trigger early with a shot that flicked up off Mykolenko and only agonisingly beyond the waiting Adams at the far post.
From the resulting corner, Ward-Prowse’s delivery was met by the head of Mohammed Salisu, whose effort just took a flick off Alex Iwobi, but not enough to divert the ball wide of Jordan Pickford, who parried it to safety.
The half was perhaps best summed up by Ibrahima Diallo’s sharpness to win possession in midfield, followed by a wild shot, high and wide of Pickford’s goal.
Saints could be pleased with the way they had settled to their task in the face of a passionate home crowd, but they were dealt a setback six minutes before the interval when Onana was left unopposed to head home Gray’s right-wing corner from six yards.
Saints did not learn their lesson, as the towering midfielder was allowed to connect with another deep delivery soon after, though his header was initially pounced upon by Bazunu, who then allowed the ball to slip from his grasp in a crowded penalty area, but no damage was done.
Everton had their tails up, and Iwobi carried the ball forward with intent as the hosts smelled blood, stepping inside and sending a curling shot towards the far post that was only a yard wide.
Back came Saints in an improving spectacle. Edozie, so often a threat but rarely involved thus far, drove towards the penalty area and intelligently laid the ball to his right for Ward-Prowse to strike first time from 18 yards.
The skipper hit it well, with a firm side-footed shot low to Pickford’s right, but the keeper got down sharply to tip the ball on to the post as Everton survived their biggest scare to date on the stroke of half time.
Ward-Prowse’s time would come within a minute of the restart, as immediately Saints hit back at the start of the second period.
Walker-Peters, by now back on the right, chipped a pass forward that was nodded down by Adams for the onrushing Ward-Prowse, who took the ball in his stride and neatly jinked inside the last defender, showing tremendous composure before slotting the ball calmly into the bottom corner.
Stung into action, Everton responded with a positive piece of play from Gray, before Calvert-Lewin went close – too close for comfort, as his shot deflected off Salisu and thudded against the underside of the crossbar, only just bouncing on the right side of the goal line as far as Saints were concerned.
As time ticked on, Everton pushed for a winner. Bazunu’s palm on an Iwobi cross only diverted the ball against Ben Godfrey, who was just a couple of yards from goal but could not adjust his body to direct the ball on target as the Saints keeper breathed a sigh of relief.
Bazunu’s next intervention was another important touch, this time to take Calvert-Lewin’s low cross away from its intended target.
Saints may have been happy enough with a point at this stage, but things were about to get a whole lot better.
When Adams was fouled in prime Ward-Prowse position, 25 yards from goal and left of centre, the captain did not disappoint, sending his free-kick over the wall and down into the bottom corner, leaving Pickford rooted to the spot and Goodison Park in shock.
There was still 12 minutes to play, but it was not until the game entered added time that Saints began to come under heavy pressure from a desperate home team.
Anthony Gordon’s driving run down the right produced a cross that again got a slight touch from Bazunu, but only to James Tarkowski, whose follow-up was blocked by debutant Carlos Alcaraz, who had been introduced on the hour for his first taste of English football.
This was a win full of guts from a rejuvenated Saints side, adding to the FA Cup and Carabao Cup victories over Crystal Palace and Man City respectively, transforming the mood inside the club in the space of seven days.