Richarlison continued his good form as Everton kept their European ambitions on track with victory over struggling Southampton.
The Brazilian rounded Fraser Forster to score his fifth goal in as many games as Carlo Ancelotti’s side moved level on points with Liverpool and two points behind fourth-placed West Ham with a game in hand.
It was a welcome victory for the hosts, who have struggled at Goodison Park, against a Southampton side clearly lacking in confidence and form.
Once Richarlison took Gylfi Sigurdsson’s pass in his stride to open the scoring after nine minutes, set-pieces looked the most likely scoring outlet as both sides failed to find any consistent rhythm.
But Michael Keane’s effort was ruled out for offside while Dominic Calvert-Lewin did well to head James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick clear.
The best chances for the visitors came at the end when Moussa Djenepo fired just wide of the far post after a promising move before Jordan Pickford saved from Jannik Vestergaard, leaving Danny Ings kicking a post in frustration.
Defeat for the Saints was an eighth in nine games as they remain seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Allan return helps Everton end poor home run
Everton’s season has been an inconsistent affair with their home form proving their biggest hindrance in an otherwise enterprising campaign.
But key to ending a run of three consecutive league losses at Goodison Park was the return of Brazilian midfielder Allan, who added extra protection in a midfield that has often left the defence exposed.
His first start since 16 December allowed Abdoulaye Doucoure and Andre Gomes to support Gylfi Sigurdsson at the tip of a midfield diamond, and it was the Iceland international’s through ball that sliced Southampton’s defence to open the scoring.
The goal came from a Pickford long ball won in the air by the irrepressible Calvert-Lewin. The England striker was a thorn in Southampton’s side and combined well up top in absence of the injured James Rodriguez, who missed the game with a “really light problem”, according to Ancelotti.
Both Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison also helped in defence as Everton thwarted dangerous set-pieces from Ward-Prowse.
Richarlison, who scored in three successive Premier League games for the first time since December 2019, could have added to his 11th of the season when he almost poked in Sigurdsson’s free-kick.
But as Southampton pressed for an equaliser, it was Everton’s defence that held firm as Ancelotti avoided a fourth successive home league defeat for the first time in his career.
It was not a pretty victory, but it came amid huge relief as Everton assistant Duncan Ferguson punched the air at the final whistle.
Saints’ struggle continues
Saints’ alarming slump since the turn of the year was summed up by Ings’ frustration towards the end of this hard-fought game.
After beating Everton’s Merseyside rivals at Anfield on 4 January, Hasenhuttl’s side were sixth, equal on points with fourth-placed Tottenham.
Since then, however, a single point from nine games has engineered a slide to seven points above the drop zone, and while relegation looks unlikely, they look a shadow of their former selves.
Renowned for their unrelenting press, the visitors retreated to a deeper position on a chilly night at Goodison Park, and were picked off by the hosts’ more direct approach.
Fraser Forster was preferred in goal to Alex McCarthy in an attempt to reverse their slide, but one of the first actions for the England goalkeeper was to pick the ball out of the net.
The visitors improved midway through the first half, but lacked a punch up front even though Ings was restored to the attack alongside Che Adams.
Yet it was not until the final stages where they truly caused problems for Everton as Djenepo caused Hasenhuttl to hold his head in hands as the winger missed the target after good play from Stuart Armstrong.
It looked as if they might finally eke out a leveller when Djenepo’s shot was blocked by Mason Holgate and fell to Vestergaard, but he slipped at a vital moment and a tame shot – Southampton’s first on target after 90 minutes – was pushed aside by Pickford.
More to follow.
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- 10G Sigurdsson
- 21André GomesSubstituted forIwobiat 87′minutes
- 7RicharlisonSubstituted forKingat 90+1′minutes
- 31Neves Virgínia
- 22SalisuSubstituted forTellaat 63′minutesBooked at 80mins
- 17ArmstrongBooked at 77mins
- 11RedmondSubstituted forWattsat 88′minutes
- 10AdamsSubstituted forN’Lunduluat 77′minutes
Match ends, Everton 1, Southampton 0.
Second Half ends, Everton 1, Southampton 0.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Allan.
Attempt blocked. Danny Ings (Southampton) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Substitution, Everton. Joshua King replaces Richarlison.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Jordan Pickford.
Attempt saved. Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt blocked. Stuart Armstrong (Southampton) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Substitution, Southampton. Caleb Watts replaces Nathan Redmond.
Substitution, Everton. Alex Iwobi replaces André Gomes.
Attempt missed. Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Stuart Armstrong.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Lucas Digne.
Moussa Djenepo (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Richarlison (Everton).
Jan Bednarek (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton).
Nathan Tella (Southampton) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Stuart Armstrong (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.