Saints soar past league leaders 

By SFC Media time Sun 25 Oct Saints v Everton
Photo by Matt Watson
Sun 25 Oct 2PM
Premier League
Southampton
2
Everton
0
Ward-Prowse [27'] Adams [35']
goal
Walker-Peters (57')
yellow card
Bernard (64') Calvert-Lewin (90+2')
red card
Digne (72')
Referee: Kevin Friend | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 0

Southampton were good value winners over Premier League leaders Everton during Sunday afternoon’s meeting at St Mary’s Stadium, climbing to fifth in the table as a result.

A solid ten-point return from six games played has seen Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side rise steadily from mid-table to the European positions, stretching an unbeaten streak to four games.

Captain James Ward-Prowse netted his first of the campaign to set Saints on their way, before Ché Adams scored for the second game running, with this the first time any team has been able to force an Everton shutout. Saints are also, incidentally, the first team to inflict Premier League defeat on the Toffees.

The win is Saints’ third of the season and consolidates a fine start to 2020/21, more than making up for a below-par opening two games. Equally as meaningful is the fact that Saints have been able to register clean sheets in three of their past four games - particularly impressive when considering Everton have already scored 18 times this season. 

Frontman Danny Ings, usually among the goals, will be selflessly credited with a brace of assists, and was yet again a standout performer as Saints secured their best start to a new campaign since 2014/15.

20201025 Southampton v Everton
Ryan Bertrand and Danny Ings ahead of kick-off

Carlo Ancelotti’s free-scoring side travelled to St Mary's slightly short of their full armoury, following Richarlison’s dismissal during last week's Merseyside derby, and apparently without playmaker James Rodríguez, who had already shown signs that he is emerging as one of the shrewdest acquisitions of the summer window.

Nevertheless, Everton did boast the firepower of the league's joint-leading scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who had proven in recent weeks that he needs little encouragement in front of goal to make a big impact on a game. As it went, Rodríguez’s number did so happen to appear on the teamsheet come 1pm, and any pre-match assertions that he would miss the action were quickly dispelled.

Saints, shrugging off the cloud cast by the one-year anniversary of a previous defeat at St Mary's (the less said about that the better), headed into the tie having won five of their last seven home Premier League matchups against Everton (L2). A much more positive stat to initiate proceedings with.

And, even more encouragingly, Saints' starting XI possessed attacking prowess of its own, in the name of Ings, who had scored in four of his five appearances against Everton. The day also marked a special milestone for goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, who was making his 100th top-flight appearance.

Theo Walcott missed out completely, ineligible to face his parent club, while Stuart Armstrong received a re-call following his absence after testing positive for Covid-19.

Line-ups assessed; kick-off followed at St Mary's - thankfully without the looming threat of a major storm - which is more than can be said for this date 12 months prior. What a difference a year makes.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: A general view ahead of the Premier League match between Southampton and Everton at St Mary's Stadium on October 25, 2020 in Southampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
A picture perfect setting at St Mary's ahead of kick-off

The mild-mannered nature of the weather as the game got under way mirrored the football for the first ten minutes, with neither side able to make much of an impression. That soon changed.

Saints were first to ask a meaningful question of the Everton backline, trying to exploit the left-hand side. Ings charged forward, sending all Everton defenders into retreat, before slipping the ball into the path of Ryan Bertrand who squared it to Nathan Redmond. The connection was somewhat miscued, but lurking was Adams, who stuck a boot out but couldn’t get the measure of the ball.

Rodríguez had the chance to test McCarthy moments later, from a free-kick positioned 25 yards from goal, but fired around the wall without troubling the Saints stopper, who had everything behind it. A vicious dipping effort from Gylfi Sigurdsson followed, which threatened to finish below the crossbar for a millisecond, but fortunately clipped the top of the woodwork before flying into the stands.

Bertrand, gaining plenty of joy in forward positions, was again provider midway through the half, this time looking for Armstrong. The Scot attempted to steer an effort toward goal, but the pass was fizzed into his feet at speed and he was unable to arrange his feet in order to direct the shot.

Saints looked purposeful in attack and were working hard to wrestle some forward momentum. Oriol Romeu’s fierce shot tested Jordan Pickford in the 26th minute, who did well considering a nick off Michael Keane caused more movement than originally anticipated, before Saints seized real initiative. This time, Pickford was unable to intervene.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: James Ward-Prowse(8) of Southampton celebrates with Danny Ings during the Premier League match between Southampton and Everton at St Mary's Stadium on October 25, 2020 in Southampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Provider Danny Ings celebrates with first goalscorer James Ward-Prowse

Twenty-four seconds after Romeu's shot, fellow midfield partner Ward-Prowse found Ings with a deft flick, and he returned the favour, before another sublime touch put Ward-Prowse in prime position to smash across goal and find the far corner.

Nothing Pickford could do about that one. There was a beautiful interchange between the England international pairing to engineer the opening, as Saints struck first blow with Ward-Prowse’s first of 2020/21. Just rewards on his 200th Southampton start.

Incisive passing was coursing through Saints’ forward play at this point, with Ings at the heart of everything. Famed for his goalscoring, he looked to be in a more charitable mood this time around. He took up a position on the left in the 38th minute, motored towards the byline before lofting a pass towards striker partner Adams centrally. The forward received the cross successfully, but briefly hesitated before electing to shoot. It didn’t matter.

The pace on the shot took it beyond Pickford, who wasn’t helped by some irresolute defending, as Saints took full advantage of a period of dominance. Armstrong drilled home what looked to be Saints’ third three minutes later, but the flag was latterly raised – the only downside to an extremely productive first 45 minutes for the hosts.

20201025 Southampton v Everton
Ché Adams makes Everton pay with Saints' second of the afternoon

Saints had made it two thirds of the way through the game with their lead firmly intact. Still pressing high and creating opportunities, the industry of Saints’ play was commendable, but susceptible to fatigue. Certainly, Kyle Walker-Peters was still full of running in the 71st minute, when he tussled with Lucas Digne.

The full-back beat his man not once, but twice, before being cynically carved down by the Frenchman. He stamped down the back of Walker-Peters’ achilles, who was fortunate not to be badly injured, and received his marching orders from the referee shortly after. The entire episode was ill-advised, but credit must be awarded to Walker-Peters, who handed Saints yet another advantage as Everton were reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes remaining.

The home side continued to control the game; two goals and a man to the good. Jannik Vestergaard, seemingly in a goal scoring mood following last week’s exploits, met Bertrand’s corner in the next phase of play and forced a one-handed stop from Pickford. In truth, Saints were toying with their opposition at this stage.

A cute ball from Romeu went searching for Ward-Prowse late on, but the midfielder's first touch was wayward. Dan N'Lundulu was introduced before the game's end, cementing his graduation from the Academy ranks, while Ibrahima Diallo was able to make his St Mary's bow, completing a fine afternoon's work on the south coast. Saints move to within three points of Everton, who, despite the loss, continue to top the table.

Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Everton
  • Possession (%)
    54
    comparison angle
    46
  • Shots
    13
    comparison angle
    6
  • Shots on target
    6
    comparison angle
    2
  • Corners
    4
    comparison angle
    5
  • Passes Complete
    539
    comparison angle
    435

Southampton

1
Alex McCarthy (GK)
2
Kyle Walker-Peters yellow card
4
Jannik Vestergaard
3
Ryan Bertrand
35
Jan Bednarek
11
Nathan Redmond
17
Stuart Armstrong
replace Ibrahima Diallo (86′)
8
James Ward-Prowse (C) goal
6
Oriol Romeu
10
Che Adams goal
replace Daniel N'Lundulu (89′)
9
Danny Ings
7
Shane Long
40
Daniel N'Lundulu
27
Ibrahima Diallo
44
Fraser Forster
5
Jack Stephens
23
Nathan Tella
29
Jake Vokins

Everton

1
Jordan Pickford (GK)
12
Lucas Digne red card
22
Ben Godfrey
13
Yerry Mina
5
Michael Keane
6
Allan
10
Gylfi Sigurdsson (C)
replace Fabian Delph (58′)
16
Abdoulaye Doucouré
replace Anthony Gordon (58′)
19
James Rodríguez
17
Alex Iwobi
replace Bernard (45′) yellow card
9
Dominic Calvert-Lewin yellow card
26
Tom Davies
21
André Gomes
20
Bernard
18
Niels Nkounkou
8
Fabian Delph
24
Anthony Gordon
33
Robin Olsen
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