Seamus Coleman and Romelu Lukaku on target as Everton defeat Southampton
Republic of Ireland international Coleman outstanding as Toffees reclaim top four spot
Everton’s Seamas Coleman celebrates scoring his side’s first goal against Southampton during the Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA
Everton 2 Southampton 1
Romelu Lukaku may well be offered an open bar tab by Joel Robles after the striker’s winner saved the goalkeeper having the worst of memories from a full league debut for
Everton. The home side were cruising towards three points courtesy of Seamus Coleman’s impressive opener when Robles, in for the suspended Tim Howard, allowed a speculative 30-yarder from Gaston Ramirez to go through his fingers. As Goodison Park tried to make sense of the howler,
Everton moved upfield via Steven Pienaar. His ball from the left was moved further along by James McCarthy to Lukaku. The Belgian made no mistake, thumping home past Kelvin Davis.
This allowed Everton to bounce back after the disappointment of the St Stephen’s Day defeat to Sunderland and take them above neighbours Liverpool into the top four for new year.
The news from Roberto Martinez is that his attractive side could be better.
“I think we can improve,” the manager said. “Thirty seven points is an outstanding return halfway through. We have had two defeats and the draws have been more unfair draws than lucky ones.”
Of the victory, he added: “It was a completely different test to the one we had on Boxing Day. Southampton are a very good side and we knew that and we had to be perfect in our performance and the two goals were of outstanding quality. We defended well and had real concentration which we needed against Southampton.”
Lukaku also praised the display. “We played well and showed great mentality and hopefully we can continue it on New Year’s Day. It was important to bounce back – we want to finish as high up as possible and if we show the same consistency and performance we can improve on last season.”
Martinez defended his stand-in keeper.
“There was nothing Joel could do,” the Spaniard said. “The swerve in that ball from Gaston Ramirez made it impossible.”
The first half had been entertaining yet lacking in consistent quality. Coleman was the standout performer, with Adam Lallana also proving to be impressive when proceedings passed through him.
The visiting captain left his best to the closing moments of the half when a juggling act left Leon Osman and Sylvain Distin the patsies in a move that finished with Lallana’s volley missing by inches.
Coleman then produced the solo effort that tingled the senses.
He surged down the right, beat James Ward-Prowse and by the time Luke Shaw – the left-back caught out of position – moved over, the Irishman had shot past Davis.
This came against the run of play. Jack Cork, Jay Rodriguez, Lallana and Rickie Lambert had been taking the Saints geometric passing game to Everton and appeared the likelier to score.
Immediately after Coleman’s intervention they came close to equalising when Lambert’s return to Lallana was not capitalised on. Apart from a Lukaku run down the same flank that produced Everton’s advantage Martinez’s side continued on for a spell in disjointed fashion.
This found its personification in the disappointing Ross Barkley, whose burst from near his area before an awry pass was indicative of his contribution throughout.
After the interval Shaw entered the match, tearing down his wing before sliding in a cross that deserved a finish.
The visiting manager could count himself unlucky that his team left with nothing.
“I thought it was a great game, both teams played positive football, it’s a shame we did not get a positive result,” said Mauricio Pochettino.
But the sight of Leighton Baines completing his first game since the broken toe suffered on 23 November sealed a satisfactory day for Everton.