Richarlison has become the first man to score in his first 2 games for Everton since Brian McBride in 2003. The Brazilian added further momentum to Marco Silva’s start to life as Everton manager, as the Toffees picked up their first win of the 2018/19 season against Southampton.
An anticipant sell-out crowd at Goodison Park were treated to a emphatic first-half display which saw free flowing, intelligent football from the attacking quadrant of Cenk Tosun, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott & Richarlison- a far cry from the stoic football of the season just passed.
Chances were plentiful from the off, with an early free-kick courtesy of the Icelandic player of the year Sigurdsson finding the head from Micheal Keane. Though Saints keeper Alex McCarthy was able to get both hands to the headed attempt, it was a warning sign of what was to come from Silva’s Blues.
Sigurdsson looked as if he was making up for lost time following his early withdrawal in the season opener to Wolves, as his quick feet & persistent movement proved too much for Southampton’s defence. After being obstructed by Wesley Hoedt, Everton’s new number 10 stood in queue with fellow dead ball specialist Leighton Baines. What was to follow was a routine straight from the training pitches at Finch Farm.
A short pass was angled in from Baines to Morgan Schneiderlin, who dinked a delightful no-look pass into the feet of Theo Walcott; springing free from his man, the former Southampton youth product prodded home from close range against his old club. Visually delighted that the set-piece routine had come to fruition, each & every player huddled around the goalscorer in celebration just 15 minutes in.
The visitors corresponded with an attacking move of their own. A long ball cushioned down into the path of Cedric, who’s long range drive was uncharacteristically spilled by England number 1 Jordan Pickford- what followed stunned both sets of fans alike, as Danny Ings crashed what was to be a certain goal against the crossbar. Replays showed Pickford managed the slightest of touches, helping the ball onto the bar & more than atoning for his earlier error.
Everton’s high press resulted in a Jack Stephens long ball from deep, which ignited a wonderful move that transitioned through defence, midfield & attack- Idrissa Gueye pushed the ball forward to the right sided duo of Seamus Coleman & Walcott. The latter weighting a brilliant cross into the box for Richarlison to nod into the net, doubling the Blues advantage in addition to adding to his opening day double in Wolverhampton.
Going into the break 2 goals to the good, it was apparent Everton boasted a confidence that Evertonians have been lusting after for many years. The Blues however seemed to take their proverbial “foot off the gas”in the 2nd half. More chances came the way of Mark Hughes’ side. One of which saw a duelling clash between Pickford & former Liverpool front man Ings, who was the recipient of the follow through boot as the Everton goalkeeper cleared his lines.
Clearly disgruntled that the referee did not blow up for a free-kick, Ings protested indicating his shirt had been ripped & his back donned Pickford’s stud marks. Back on Merseyside for his first start since rejoining Southampton, Ings pulled one back for the Saints as Everton’s zonal marking approach failed to deal with a James Ward-Prowse corner. 2-1with 35 minutes to go.
The industrious Walcott was heavily involved with Everton’s follow up attacking play. Sigurdsson again was in the thick of it, playing through an offside Tosun who squared to an unmarked Walcott. The celebrations were soon cut short once the upraised flag had been noticed. Shortly after, Mason Holgate threaded an impressive back to front pass, prompting Sigurdsson to play a captivating 1-2, teeing up Walcott with just the keeper to beat. Somehow, the shot was dragged wide. But all in all, the attacking capabilities of this Everton side revealed that there is so much more to come.
Captain Seamus Coleman was full of praise for Everton’s attacking talent following the result: “the forward players all linked up brilliantly & worked really hard, we tried to get the ball back as quick as we could & I think the fans enjoyed it.”