MATCH REPORT : EVERTON 1-1 SOUTHAMPTON

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EVERTON 1-1 SOUTHAMPTON

After Monday night’s disappointing defeat at Tottenham, Carlo Ancelotti still mentioned qualifying for Europe, after this game any talk of Europa League qualification should now be banished for Everton.

Their opponents Southampton arrived in excellent form fresh from a victory over Manchester City. The turnaround that Ralph Hassenhutl has overseen at St Mary’s has been incredible. Beaten 9-0 at home by Leicester City in November, it seemed inevitable that the Austrian would be sacked but the Saints stuck with him and they have been rewarded.

In this game, Southampton were better in every department, particularly in the first half they were too quick and bright for their hosts. In Danny Ings they had a striker who led from the front and gave the Everton defence lots to think about.

The Saints should have been out of sight before half-time. Stuart Armstrong thought he had given them the lead after firing the ball into Jordan Pickford’s net from close range but he was correctly awarded to be in an offside position. James Ward-Prowse had a powerful free-kick tipped over the bar by Pickford as the pressure built on Everton’s goal.

Pickford then produced a superb reaction save from the following corner also taken by Ward-Prowse. Ings flashed a near-post header that the England keeper tipped on to the crossbar with his right hand. The rebound struck his other arm and the bar for a second time and somehow stayed out.

In this period, Everton did have one chance of note and that was after good play from Lucas Digne. His run and cross from the left-hand side fell to Alex Iwobi whose powerful strike was turned away by Alex McCarthy in the Saints’ goal.

Southampton were then given another chance to take the lead. Ryan Bertrand delivered a deep cross back into the area where Ward-Prowse cunningly threw himself against Andre Gomes and went down. The referee, Lee Mason, had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, although replays showed that the player was already falling before any touch from Gomes. Incredibly VAR did not overrule Mason’s decision but justice was done when Ward-Prowse drove his penalty against the bar.

Everton did not heed the warnings though and fell behind when Danny Ings scored his 19th league goal of the season. In doing so it brought him level with Mohamed Salah and three behind Jamie Vardy in the race for the Golden Boot.

There was an element of good fortune in the goal but it was no more than Southampton deserved for their excellent showing. Armstrong broke forward as Everton gave the ball away, he got to the edge of the box and totally mis-kicked an attempted shot from 20 yards out. The ball somehow found its way through to Ings hit him on the foot and stopped. He then rounded Pickford and slid in to toe-poke the ball over the line to give the Saints the lead.

What came next was a surprise even to Carlo Ancelotti. Having watched his side be out-run and outfought for the majority of the half showing little quality, they then produced a brilliant equaliser.

Everton built from the back worked the ball into Gylfi Sigurdsson, he played it back to Michael Keane who played the ball into Digne. The French left back then hit a superb raking pass through to Richarlison, the Brazilian’s first touch took him away from Bertrand and he brilliantly lifted it over the outcoming McCarthy to equalise.

Ancelotti changed it up at half time and went to a back three for the second half with Djibril Sidibe, replacing the innocuous Alex Iwobi. The former Arsenal man just hasn’t performed on a regular basis this season for the Blues since his £28m transfer last summer.

Everton were better in the second half but still lacked any real quality. They had a couple of moments on the counter-attack after the break. Dominic Calvert-Lewin let a fine opening slip through his fingers having been brilliantly found by Tom Davies. Then VAR once again proved it was no friend of Everton by not upgrading Jan Bednarek’s yellow card to a red for scything down Richarlison when clean through on goal, which clearly denied the Brazilian a goal-scoring opportunity.

The visitors did not create anything of note in the second half as the game petered out to a draw. They will be frustrated that they did not sew the game up in the opening 45 minutes when they were too good for Everton.

Everton’s unbeaten home run now stretches to 10 Premier League games and Ancelotti is yet to taste defeat at Goodison Park since succeeding Marco Silva as manager. However, the Italian manager is too long in the tooth to know that there is a lot of work to be done at Goodison following this one and it must be a worry for him.

Final Score: Everton 1-1 Southampton

How They Lined Up: 

Barry Cass