Everton beat Southampton 3-1 at Goodison Park as the Rafael Benitez era began in fine fashion.
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Adam Armstrong scored a beauty on his Southampton debut to give the away side the lead, but Richarlison equalized early in the second half as the Brazilian striker continues to be their main man.
That sparked a second half comeback from Everton as Abdoulaye Doucoure slammed home a beauty and then Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a diving header to seal the win.
The scoreline was harsh on Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side but Everton just had that extra quality in attack and Benitez will be delighted, and so too will the Everton faithful.
Three things we learned
1. Saints’ defensive issues remain: The conceded the second-most goals last season and they have conceded three already this campaign. Doucoure’s hit was a beauty but the other two were avoidable as Mohammed Salisu just looked out of sorts all game long. After moving on some experienced players, this is going to be a long, hard season for Saints.
2. Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin hold the key for Rafa: They each scored and Richarlison set up DCL for a late header and those two hold the key for Benitez. We know that Everton will be solid defensively under the Spanish coach but they need their star duo to step up like they did in the opening weekend. Week in, week out.
3. Armstrong ready to try and replace Ings: He took his goal extremely well and showed that he can have a go at replacing Danny Ings. Saints will create a lot of chances and Armstrong looks like he can put them away. Now, they just have to improve at the back.
Man of the Match: Richarlison – Scored the equalizer, had an assist and was a constant threat up top. Southampton couldn’t handle his movement and he was sharp, just a few days after playing in the Olympics and winning Gold for Brazil.
A tight, tense start to the game saw Calvert-Lewin flick a header over, while Southampton looked to get the ball wide to new full backs Tino Livramento and Romain Perraud.
The game opened up as half time approached.
New Saints signing Adam Armstrong almost set up Che Adams at one end, then Everton broke as Richarlison crossed and Calvert-Lewin couldn’t quite stretch to finish.
Southampton took the lead before half time as Michael Keane was caught in possession by the impressive Che Adams and he set up Armstrong, who raced clean through on his Saints debut and curled a beauty into the top corner past Jordan Pickford.
Armstrong was buoyed by that goal and caused Keane lots of problems as he had another shot saved, while at the other end Calvert-Lewin almost got on the end of an Andros Townsend cross.
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Right at the start of the second half Richarlison equalized for Everton to swing the momentum in Everton’s favor.
A corner was cleared but Townsend helped it back in and Mohammed Salisu didn’t know where Richarlison was and the Brazilian striker nipped in to slam home.
Everton were on top for a while but Southampton recovered as James Ward-Prowse caused problems with his set piece deliveries.
Doucoure then smashed home a beauty to put Everton ahead as he worked space in the box and then rifled home a beauty into the top corner to send Goodison wild.
Calvert-Lewin’s diving header from Richarlison’s cross added further gloss to the scoreline as the Toffees just had too much for the Saints to handle.