A scintillating display from Southampton resulted in the first loss of the season for an Everton side who were merely a shadow of themselves throughout Sunday’s encounter.
Captain Ward-Prowse produced a thunderous finish after a slick one-two with striker Danny Ings to put Southampton in front after 27 minutes. It would only be 8 minutes later that Hasenhuttl’s side doubled their lead. This time it was Che Adams who calmly struck past Pickford following an inviting Ings cross. Defeat for leaders Everton means that every team in the league has now been beaten this season.
Everton lacked the attacking prowess that had been ever-present until Sunday’s game at St Mary’s. With Richarlison’s absence and James Rodriguez starting despite fears of injury, the Toffees failed to create any major chances. To rub salt in the wound, Lucas Digne found himself walking down the tunnel after 72 minutes after a rash challenge on Walker-Peters.
The Saints were impressive from the whistle, as a scuffed effort from an inspired Redmond trickled just wide of the post. Everton’s best chance of the game came through a promising move in the midfield which ended with captain Sigurdsson spectacularly blasting from 20 yards against the bar. McCarthy was clearly beaten, and Everton were unlucky not to take an early lead through Sigurdsson’s magic.
Minutes later, Saints broke the deadlock through James Ward-Prowse’s first league goal since 28 June. Combining with Ings, who impressed on the day assisting both goals, Ward-Prowse powered home to give Saints the early lead. Ings was just one of many Saints players who were unstoppable on Sunday, the vigour and perseverant attitude that Hasenhuttl has tried to instil in his players was evident. Che Adams’ goal following Ings’ cross from the left wing served as a sign that this attacking partnership between Ings and Adams has clear potential to grow into a force in the future. Adams now has two goals in as many games, the reinvigorated 24-year-old is now finding his feet at Southampton.
The scoreline almost stretched to 3-0 after Armstrong converted into the net, although the offside flag resulted in the goal being chalked off.
Following Digne’s red card in the second half, Saints yet again threatened Pickford as Vestergaard forced an excellent stop from the England goalkeeper.
One year on from their disastrous 9-0 defeat at home to Leicester, victory over the division’s front runners acts as an indicator of just how far and how much Hasenhuttl’s cohort have grown since then. Losing 9-0 arguably was the punch in the gut that the Saints needed in order to realise where their weaknesses lied and now what is undeniably visible is that Hasenhuttl has transformed the Saints into an encouraging team.
Victory means that Hasenhuttl’s side climb to 7th place, now unbeaten in four games. While Everton narrowly remain league leaders only on goal difference with rivals Liverpool also on 13 points after overcoming Sheffield United 2-1 on Saturday night.
Hasenhuttl was full of praise for his team, stating that:
It’s not important for me who scores, but what everyone does for the team. It’s important to make assists too, and our game management, and playing through the lines was fantastic today. We showed with the two goals how easy it is to score if you do it well It was a dominant win as we limited their chances, and it was a good performance.
Meanwhile, Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti remained optimistic in defeat:
We’re here to talk about the first defeat and I feel we have to move forward. Of course, we don’t like to lose games but in football it happens. We have to move forward from this game with the same belief that we had when we arrived here. It can happen.
FT: SOUTHAMPTON 2-0 Everton (Ward-Prowse 27’, Adams 35’)
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters (booked), Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Armstrong (Diallo 86’), Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Redmon, Ings, Adams (N’Lundulu 89’). Unused subs: Stephens, Long, Tella, Vokins, Forster
Everton: Pickford, Godfrey, Mina, Keane, Digne (sent off), Doucouré (Gordon 58’), Allan, Sigurdsson (Delph 58’), Rodríguez, Calvert-Lewin (booked), Iwobi (booked) (Bernard 45’). Unused subs: Nkounkou, André Gomes, Davies, Olson
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Danny Ings (Southampton)
Referee: Kevin Friend