It was another gutsy performance, but a disappointing outcome as Saints were beaten by Everton.
At a notoriously difficult place to pick up points from, Saints pushed an in form Toffees side all the way throughout the 90 minutes, whilst also becoming the first team to score against the Blues in an opening half of this season.
It all started so well for the visitors with the breakthrough arriving on six minutes with a first ever Saints goal for Gaston Ramirez, who headed home Lallana's corner. However, the defensive frailties which have seen Nigel Adkins’ men concede the most goals in the Barclays Premier League at the start of the campaign were on show again, as first, Leon Osman, and then two strikes from Nikica Jelavic before the interval, gave the visitors a mountain to climb.
Saints pushed hard in the second period with Rickie Lambert forcing a good save from Tim Howard, whilst the flowing movement of the visitors’ front line caused an Everton side who have made their best ever start to a Premier League season, some tough moments.
Adkins’ side will therefore take heart from the display, but the result means that Merseyside remains an unhappy hunting ground for Southampton, with this the eighth consecutive time that Saints have left Goodison without a win.
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines, Mirallas (Oviedo 78), Neville, Osman (Distin 90), Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic (Anichebe 74). Subs (not used): Mucha, Gueye, Vellios, Duffy
Saints: Gazzaniga, Clyne (Reeves 80), Yoshida, Fonte, Richardson, S. Davis, Ward-Prowse, Lallana (Chaplow 88), Ramirez, Rodriguez (Mayuka 80), Lambert. Subs (not used): K. Davis, Guly, Puncheon, Hooiveld.
Referee: Lee Probert
Attendance: 37, 922
Frazer Richardson and Jay Rodriguez came into the starting line up with Jason Puncheon dropping to the bench.
Morgan Schneiderlin was sidelined along with Jack Cork and Tadanari Lee. New signing Artur Boruc was not in the squad as he continues to work towards match fitness.
The visitors got the game underway after Everton had elected to switch ends leaving the sunlight shining into Paulo Gazzaniga’s goal for the opening 45 minutes.
The home side made an early foray forward with Leighton Baines looking to pick out a blue shirt inside the area from the left. Maya Yoshida’s headed clearance fell invitingly to Kevin Mirallas, but the midfielder couldn’t keep his shot down as he aimed for the far corner.
Saints had deployed a diamond midfield with Gaston Ramirez at the tip of it to support Lambert and Rodriguez in attack and as with his recent performances, the Uruguayan was lively in the early exchanges.
And from a sixth minute corner RAMIREZ deployed his aerial threat to nod in his first goal for the club from Adam Lallana’s delivery from the left as the visitors celebrated a dream start at Goodison.
Ramirez was also present at the back to thwart an Everton attack moments later, but Saints continued to cause problems for the home side as they nearly extended their lead on 11 minutes when Rodriguez went through one on one with Tim Howard, but skewed his shot wide of the left post.
At the other end Leon Osman headed over from a dangerous looking cross, but Saints continued to look bright when they broke forward with Lallana and Ramirez both finding room in their opponents’ half in what was a spirited end-to-end encounter during the first 20 minutes of action.
Lambert headed a Ramirez corner from the right wide at the far post, but with a touch of fortune, Everton equalised on 25.
Jelavic’s attempt to turn home Mirallas’s cross from the right fell fortuitously to OSMAN, who powered home a high shot into the top corner at close range to level things up as Saints’ hopes of a first clean league clean sheet of the season disappeared.
David Moyes’s men turned the game on its head in the 32nd minute when Mirallas fed a perfectly weighted pass into the path of JELAVIC who drew Gazzaniga from his line before sliding the ball across the ‘keeper and into the net for 2-1.
But for the heroics of Gazzaniga Jelavic would have celebrated again on 37 when the ‘keeper clawed away a header from the Croat, but the tall forward wasn’t to be denied a minute later when from an acute angle JELAVIC powered a diving header in at the near post to extend the Toffees’ lead.
Adkins’ men to their credit went back in search for a response even though Everton remained a threat on the break.
Marouane Fellaini headed Seamus Coleman’s cross at Gazzaniga prior to two minutes of stoppage time added on at the end of the half, with Saints having work to do in the second period to take anything from the contest.
Half Time: Everton 3-1 Saints
Saints sensed that an early goal could spark a comeback as they started the new half in a positive manner, leading to Rodriguez trying his luck with a first time shot from Lambert’s pass, which Howard gathered gratefully.
Lallana and Rodriguez each attempted to divert crosses goalwards as the visitors stepped up their quest to pull another back, whilst Everton patiently built up a head of steam which resulted in Fellaini firing wide with a fierce strike from distance.
Steven Pienaar was a matter of inches away from bending home past Gazzaniga, whilst Rodriguez went close with a cross/shot which flashed past Howard’s goal on the hour mark.
Saints were given a sniff in the moves that followed as some neat approach play involving Lambert, Rodriguez, and Lallana in the final third frustratingly went unrewarded thanks to some solid defending from Everton.
Rodriguez and Lallana moved into wider positions to allow Ramirez to join Lambert in attack, and the Saints goal scorer went close to netting again when first he sent a rasping shot at Howard, before he then dinked a close range effort agonisingly wide of the American’s goal after more impressive link up in the hosts’ area.
On 74 Everton replaced double scorer Jelavic with forward Victor Anichebe before introducing Bryan Oviedo for the lively Kevin Mirallas.
That preceded the first changes made by Adkins with Emmanuel Mayuka and Ben Reeves replacing Rodriguez and Nathaniel Clyne respectively with ten minutes remaining.
Saints pushed on again in search of a goal with Steven Davis picking out Lambert for a header which Howard saved at full stretch, in what turned out to be one of the last clear chances of the game.
The final few minutes were interspersed with the final substitutions from either side with Richard Chaplow coming on for Lallana, and former Portsmouth defender Sylvain Distin replacing Osman in stoppage time.
Full Time: Everton 3-1 Saints