Goals from Seamus Coleman and Romelu Lukaku ensured Saints suffered an unfortunate 2-1 defeat at the hands of Everton at Goodison Park.
Substitute Gaston Ramírez’s stunning 35-yard drive brought Southampton back on terms for a short period of time after Coleman’s early strike into the top corner. Lukaku then restored the hosts’ lead shortly after when he swept into the corner from the edge of the box.
Amidst the energetic beginning to the match, Ross Barkley was typically the driving force for the hosts as the young midfielder forged the first attempt on goal.
The Liverpool-born lad laid the ball out wide to Coleman before seeing it swiftly whipped back towards the onrushing Barkley, whose first-time effort was smothered by Kelvin Davis – who was making his first league appearance of the season – at the near corner.
COLEMAN was prominent in Everton’s attacking once again as the full-back opened the scoring in the ninth minute with an impressive strike. The Irishman cut past James Ward-Prowse into the area before driving the ball across Davis and into the top corner at the far post.
That prompted a Saints backlash, headed by Steven Davis in the 14th minute as the midfielder raced past multiple challenges and executed a quick one-two pass with Rickie Lambert, only to see it collected by Blues ‘keeper Joel Robles before he could meet the return.
Everton had hopeful appeals of a penalty ignored by referee Mark Clattenburg when Steven Naismith tumbled in the box under pressure from José Fonte when attempting to latch onto a long ball, before Saints found themselves stung by officials in the 25th minute.
Adam Lallana extravagantly flicked Calum Chambers’ pass into the path of Lambert, who was in acres of space in the box but was ruled offside when side-footing at Robles from a fairly tight angle.
As half-time neared, both sides fashioned opportunities to grab a goal. The first of which came courtesy of Everton, who broke in behind the majority of the Saints backline through Romelu Lukaku but the Belgian’s attempted pass to the well-positioned Bryan Oviedo in the area was expertly cut out by Fonte.
Southampton’s chance was made and missed by Lallana, who cleverly flicked the ball in between Sylvain Distin and Leon Osman before swiftly spinning and dragging it narrowly wide with a left-footed hit from just inside the box.
HALF-TIME: EVERTON 1-0 SOUTHAMPTON
Saints nearly started the second half perfectly when Luke Shaw found plenty of space for a dangerous cross inside the 46th minute.
The left-back comfortably sped past Coleman and Osman before whipping the ball in low for Lallana who unfortunately failed to make contact when charging through the middle of the box.
Everton nearly doubled their lead ten minutes into the second period and would have done had it not been for some wayward aiming in a glorious position from Barkley.
Lukaku skipped away from Jack Cork on the halfway line before breaking forward and playing out wide to Oviedo, allowing the Costa Rican plenty of time to fizz the ball in for Barkley to side-foot inches past the post.
The encounter then began to develop an end-to-end nature which brought Saints agonisingly close to an equaliser with just under 25 minutes remaining.
Shaw beautifully controlled a cross to take it past the helpless Naismith before firing a low, right-footed shot that ricocheted out to Rodriguez for a first-time drive from 20 yards that deflected narrowly wide.
Saints ensured no-one was preventing their next attempt as RAMÍREZ levelled the scoring in stunning circumstances. The Uruguayan picked up possession 40 yards from goal before advancing and sending the ball soaring past Robles from long distance.
Unfortunately for the visitors, they weren’t back on terms for too long before the hosts broke in front yet again through LUKAKU.
Substitute Steven Pienaar played the ball up to James McCarthy whose first-time flick inside to Lukaku was immediately swept into the corner by the towering striker from the edge of the area.
The goal evidently filled Lukaku with confidence as good footwork from the 20-year-old saw him skip past several challenges before he scooped the ball marginally over the crossbar.
As Saints battled to try and force their way back into contention, an attempted pass ricocheted into the path of Shaw who snatched at a shot from distance, steering the ball into the crowd above the net.
Lukaku proved to be a nuisance towards the end of the clash but saw his low shot in the dying stages excellently pushed around the post by the diving Davis as the game was closed out and Saints left Goodison Park empty-handed.
FULL-TIME: EVERTON 2-1 SOUTHAMPTON
Everton team: Robles, Baines, Alcaraz, Distin, Coleman, McCarthy, Barkley, Oviedo (Pienaar 60), Osman (c) (Mirallas 73), Naismith, Lukaku. Unused substitutes: Springthorpe (GK), Hibbert, Heitinga, Jelavic, Stones.
Goals: Coleman (9), Lukaku (74)
Booked: Oviedo (51), McCarthy (77)
Southampton team: K. Davis (c), Chambers (Clyne 88), Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Cork (Ramírez 65), S. Davis, Ward-Prowse (Gallagher 83), Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert. Unused substitutes: Gazzaniga (GK), Yoshida, Hooiveld, Reed.
Goal: Ramírez (71)
Booked: Cork (62), Lambert (65), Ramírez (71), Lallana (88)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg