Two fine goals in the first half claimed the points for Everton as Marco Silva got his Goodison career off to a winning start I’m a game that saw the visitors more sinners than Saints.
After an encouraging display and well deserved point atnewly-promoted Wolves, where Richarlison bagged a brace, Everton kicked off their home campaign against Mark Hughes’ Southampton.
For his first Premier League game at Goodison and looking for a good start, new manager Marco Silva was forced into a change in the back four. As a result of the debatable red card for Phil Jagielka at Molineux, Silva kept faith with Mason Holgate a to play alongside Michael Keane. The full starting eleven was: Pickford, Baines,Keane, Holgate, Coleman (c), Gana Gueye, Scheiderlin, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Tosun and Richarlison.
For the visitors Southampton, who opened their season with a scoreless draw against Burnley, Mark Hughes selected his line-up: McCarthy, Soares, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand (c), Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Lemina, Redmond, Austin and Ings.
In charge of proceedings was referee Lee Mason.
The opening ten minutes saw both sides give each other a good looking at with Everton winning two early free kicks, both taken by Sigurdsson and finding the heads of Keane and Tosun respectively for comfortable saves by the visitors keeper. For Southampton, Bertrand found Stephens in the box but his header flew wide.
Everton opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a move straight from the USM Finch Farm training pitch. With Sigurdsson making like he was taking another free kick, Baines played a quick ball to Holgate and he quickly put it through for Theo Walcott to run onto and tuck home for 1-0.
Hoedt was booked shortly afterwards for a crude challenge on Tosun, and from the free kick, Sigurdsson again found the head of Keane but his header was again easily gathered.
Lemina ploughed into Schneiderlin and was rightly booked while the Frenchman received treatment. The knock proved enough for Schneiderlin to leave the game four minutes later, Tom Davies his replacement.
Everton had a lucky escape on 24 minutes as Soares fired in a long range shot that Pickford spilled in the glorious sunshine but, former RS Ings could only hit the crossbar on the second effort.
On the next Everton attack, Goodison held its breath as Richarlison went down awkwardly in the box while the visitors broke away. The Saints attack came to nothing and after treatment, our new Brazilian hero rejoined the game… to some effect.
On the half hour, the Blues put together a good move that saw Captain Seamus link well with Walcott and his fine cross to the edge of the six-yard box was met by a fine header from Richarlison that gave McCarthy no chance.
Everton were now is almost total control and referee Mason was kept busy handing out further yellow cards to Romeu and Soares, both for poor tackles on Richarlison.
Half Time: 2-0
No changes by either side during the interval saw Everton quickly into their stride with two nice moves, but it was Southampton who scored first. A 54th minute corner from Ward-Prowse was flicked on at the near post and Ings turned to slide the ball past Pickford.
Southampton brought Long on for Austin before Stephens became the fifth booking for a nasty challenge on Tosun, that saw him need treatment.
Everton were denied a third goal after a nice move saw Sigurdsson find Tosun and his cross was finished by Walcott, but the Turkish striker had been adjudged offside.
The best move of the match came on 68 minutes and saw Coleman link with Walcott to play a one-two with Sigurdsson before shooting across the goalie and agonisingly wide of the far post.
Gabbiadini replaced Roweu and DCL came on for Tosun ahead of Pickford racing off his line to clear and clatter Ings in the process.
A nice right wing move came to nothing as the cross from DCL only found space in the area. Inside the final six minutes, Armstrong replaced Ward-Prowse and Richarlison received a standing ovation when he made way for Oumar Niasse.
Niasse as ever, with his somewhat unconventional style, caused problems, but Everton were unable to find the insurance goal while Pickford stood firm despite a late flurry from the visitors.
Full Time: 2-1
Compared to so, so much of last season, this was a breath of fresh air as Everton looked to take the game to their opponents, and in Richarlison, the Goodison faithful have a new hero. Sigurdsson pulled many of the strings from midfield while Richarlison, whilst looking like he’ll quickly become a targeted man, proved a willing worker at both ends of the pitch. Cenk Tosun isn’t an archetypal centre forward, but again his work rate is excellent.
Overall, Marco Silva will be encouraged by the start his new club have made, but there is still some work to do at the back. The goal Everton conceded will be analysed critically I expect and there were one or two moments in both halves that caused brief alarm in the home ranks.
And nothing overtly against Phil Jagielka, but the more vocal Seamus Coleman did his claims for the permanent captains’ armband no harm at all.
One final thought and purely my opinion, but absolutely nobody had a poor game today, everyone contributed to a good, all-round team performance that bodes well for the future.