Southampton lost to Everton at St Mary’s for the first time in 13 years as the Blues came away with a 3-0 victory in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.
The scoreline was harsh on the hosts, but the damage was done in the first half of a hard fought game which Everton ultimately deserved to win. It was 2-0 at half-time as Romelu Lukaku’s double put the visitors ahead. The Belgian striker’s punishing efforts gave Saints a mountain to climb in the second half.
His first came against the run of play, but that takes nothing away from the strength he showed to finish with a header from Arouna Koné’s measured cross which gave the visitors a 22nd minute lead.
Lukaku and Everton’s second crucial strike came just before half-time when the striker hit a well-take low shot into the bottom corner.
Barkley settled the game on 84 minutes when he picked out the far corner with a sweetly taken shot which ended a run of six games without a win for them in this fixture on the south coast.
Saints made one change to their starting eleven for this game, with Jay Rodriguez dropping to the bench for Shane Long. Rodriguez was joined by new signing Oriol Romeu among the substitutes.
Romeu took the injured Steven Caulker’s place on the bench, with the loanee defender joining Jordy Clasie Fraser Forster, Florin Gardos, Ryan Bertrand and Gastón Ramirez on the sidelines.
Muhamed Bešić and Gerard Deulofeu were back in the Everton squad after missing the Toffees’ opening day game of the season against Watford.
They were on the bench as the visitors got the game under way in their changed strip of dark green and blue, attacking the Chapel stand with Barkley and Lukaku taking kick-off.
Everton made their presence felt early on as they stopped Saints from settling into their rhythm, with a strong opening to the contest.
However, Saints had the better of the early opportunities, with the visitors just doing enough to frustrate Ronald Koeman’s men.
Sadio Mané sliced an acute shot just short of the near post on 12 minutes, while a penalty area scramble two minutes later saw Steven Davis and Graziano Pellè link up to find Tadić, who couldn’t quite get the shot away.
Matt Targett had a shot from range saved, before Mané almost broke the deadlock from the left where he had a blistering low shot saved by the feet of Tim Howard.
Saints were then caught on the break as Everton took the lead on 22 minutes. A speedy move forward was ended by Arouna Koné’s cross to the centre of the area, headed back across goal and in off the under-side of the cross bar by Romelu Lukaku for 1-0.
The goal punctured what had been Saints’ best spell of the game, as the visitors battled back well. Everton stepped it up with McCarthy forcing a corner from the byline and on 29 minutes it should have been 2-0 when Ross Barkley was initially denied by good low save, but on the follow-up Tom Cleverley, with most of the goal to aim for, put the rebound wide.
Saints came back again with Victor Wanyama heading high and wide from a corner, while Mané was denied a penalty despite taking a shove from John Stones on the byline, but there was no spot kick awarded as he also lost his footing in the build-up.
The first half ended with a blow for the hosts as Lukaku doubled Everton’s lead with a crisp finish into the bottom corner. Barkley led the charge through the middle to play in the Belgian who did the rest with assurance.
Oriol Romeu made his Southampton debut by coming on as a half-time substitute in place of Tadić, a move which saw Steven Davis move further forward for the hosts.
The Spaniard was immediately involved for his new side with a couple of easy-on-the-eye touches to link up with Pellè on two occasions, before he was then booked for an innocuous looking challenge as he put a block on James McCarthy.
Saints continued their early onslaught to Tim Howard’s goal in a bid to get back into the game. Pellè fired a shot on the turn which the keeper held well under pressure, and the Saints forward headed a corner from Steven Davis over.
In between time Cédric was given treatment which required him to wear a head for the remainder of the contest after a clash with Gareth Barry in midfield.
Jay Rodriguez entered the action with just under 20 minutes remaining in place of Long, and James Ward-Prowse followed him onto the pitch soon after.
Mané took matters into his own hands with a strike from range which forced a fine save by Howard, as Saints sensed it just wasn’t going to be their day.
The match was settled once and for all with six minutes remaining when Ross Barkley struck a sweet shot into the far corner from a cutback to him inside the area, which he finished with aplomb.
Southampton team: Maarten Stekelenburg, Cédric Soares, Maya Yoshida, José Fonte, Matt Targett, Victor Wanyama, Steven Davis (James Ward-Prowse 79), Dušan Tadić (Oriol Romeu 46), Sadio Mané, Shane Long (Jay Rodriguez 71), Graziano Pellè
Unused substitutes: Paulo Gazzaniga, Cuco Martina, Harrison Reed, Juanmi
Booked: Targett (6), Pellè (37), Romeu (49), Davis (77)
Everton team: Tim Howard, Brendan Galloway (Tyias Browning 88), John Stones, Phil Jagielka (c), Séamus Coleman, Tom Cleverley, James McCarthy, Gareth Barry, Ross Barkley, Arouna Koné (Steven Naismith 79), Romelu Lukaku (Gerard Deulofeu 88)
Unused substitutes: Joel Robles, Kevin Mirallas, Muhamed Bešić, Leon Osman
Booked: Barkley (45), McCarthy (75)
Goals: Lukaku (22) & (44), Barkley (84)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Attendance: 30,966 (including 2,615 away)