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Everton 3-1 Southampton: Rafael Benitez makes winning start

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport at Goodison Park
Richarlison poked home from Andros Townsend's header
Richarlison poked home from Andros Townsend's header

Rafael Benitez got off to the perfect start as Everton manager, with his team coming from behind to beat Southampton in front of an ecstatic Goodison Park.

As Goodison welcomed back a full house for the first time since March 2020, the former Liverpool boss received a warm reception before kick-off which led to a positive start.

But the fervent atmosphere soon turned when Michael Keane gifted an opener for Saints debutant Adam Armstrong, who joined from Blackburn earlier this week, as he latched on to Che Adams' ball to curl into the top corner.

Everton struggled for the rest of the first half, but Benitez's decision to put Richarlison up front paid off immediately after the break as he poked home from debutant Andros Townsend's header.

Benitez's side, who were without the isolating James Rodriguez, then sent their fans delirious with two goals in the space of five minutes.

First, Abdoulaye Doucoure turned in the penalty box before smashing into the top corner.

And Benitez's tactical switch proved a masterstroke as Richarlison, fresh from an Olympic gold medal with Brazil at Tokyo 2020, crossed for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score with a diving header at the near post.

There was also a fine debut for Demarai Gray, who never stopped running and provided plenty of ammunition for the Everton strikers.

Richarlison proves the difference

Everton 3-1 Southampton: Benitez ‘really pleased’ after first Everton win

No doubt there would have been some nerves for Benitez, the first manager since the 1890s to cross the Liverpool divide. There were plenty of fans who voiced their opposition to his appointment six weeks ago.

But this was a day to rejoice in what was his first Premier League match in more than two years. The win was only Everton's third in the past 13 home games, stretching back to last season, when a European challenge stuttered under former boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Often, the team struggled to overturn deficits under the Italian manager - but buoyed by a raucous atmosphere and Benitez's switch, they continued to press for more goals once they had equalised.

Southampton contributed to what was an open game, with Armstrong showing plenty of endeavour and linking well with Adams.

There was also a fine debut for Tino Livramento at right-back, while the back-line kept Calvert-Lewin in check until Richarlison joined him in attack.

The Brazilian struggled in the first half, placed on the left of a three behind Calvert-Lewin, and was booked for an outrageous dive after the half-hour mark.

At that point, Everton looked nothing like the side who would go on to take control in the second half, and Keane's mistake led to a catalogue of errors that threatened to gift Ralph Hasenhuttl's side another goal.

But after Richarlison's equaliser, the hosts were inspired by their fans and pressed for more goals. The Brazilian dummied brilliantly but Keane's effort was blocked by the industrious James Ward-Prowse.

Everton fans were not to be disappointed, though, and will hope that Benitez's reign continues in a similar fashion after both a performance and result that were worth waiting for.

Everton 3-1 Southampton: Defeat by Everton 'very hard to take' - Hasenhuttl

Player of the match

A ArmstrongAdam Armstrong

with an average of 7.85

Everton

  1. Squad number7Player nameRicharlison
    Average rating

    6.68

  2. Squad number17Player nameIwobi
    Average rating

    6.34

  3. Squad number16Player nameDoucouré
    Average rating

    6.30

  4. Squad number13Player nameMina
    Average rating

    6.24

  5. Squad number9Player nameCalvert-Lewin
    Average rating

    6.21

  6. Squad number24Player nameGordon
    Average rating

    6.00

  7. Squad number11Player nameGray
    Average rating

    5.95

  8. Squad number14Player nameTownsend
    Average rating

    5.86

  9. Squad number23Player nameColeman
    Average rating

    5.76

  10. Squad number6Player nameAllan
    Average rating

    5.65

  11. Squad number12Player nameDigne
    Average rating

    5.61

  12. Squad number1Player namePickford
    Average rating

    5.39

  13. Squad number4Player nameHolgate
    Average rating

    5.04

  14. Squad number5Player nameKeane
    Average rating

    4.68

Southampton

  1. Squad number9Player nameA Armstrong
    Average rating

    7.85

  2. Squad number10Player nameAdams
    Average rating

    7.26

  3. Squad number21Player nameLivramento
    Average rating

    6.99

  4. Squad number6Player nameOriol Romeu
    Average rating

    6.80

  5. Squad number22Player nameSalisu
    Average rating

    6.60

  6. Squad number19Player nameDjenepo
    Average rating

    6.58

  7. Squad number15Player namePerraud
    Average rating

    6.56

  8. Squad number5Player nameStephens
    Average rating

    6.43

  9. Squad number32Player nameWalcott
    Average rating

    6.41

  10. Squad number1Player nameMcCarthy
    Average rating

    6.37

  11. Squad number8Player nameWard-Prowse
    Average rating

    6.09

  12. Squad number23Player nameTella
    Average rating

    4.41

  13. Squad number27Player nameDiallo
    Average rating

    4.40

  14. Squad number11Player nameRedmond
    Average rating

    4.19

Line-ups

Everton

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Pickford
  • 23Coleman
  • 4Holgate
  • 5Keane
  • 12Digne
  • 6Allan
  • 16DoucouréBooked at 76mins
  • 14TownsendSubstituted forIwobiat 70'minutes
  • 11GraySubstituted forMinaat 83'minutes
  • 7RicharlisonBooked at 30minsSubstituted forGordonat 89'minutes
  • 9Calvert-Lewin

Substitutes

  • 2Kenny
  • 8Delph
  • 13Mina
  • 15Begovic
  • 17Iwobi
  • 24Gordon
  • 26Davies
  • 32Branthwaite
  • 34Broadhead

Southampton

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1McCarthy
  • 21Livramento
  • 5Stephens
  • 22Salisu
  • 15PerraudSubstituted forRedmondat 83'minutes
  • 32WalcottSubstituted forTellaat 80'minutes
  • 8Ward-Prowse
  • 6RomeuSubstituted forDialloat 79'minutes
  • 19Djenepo
  • 10Adams
  • 9A Armstrong

Substitutes

  • 2Walker-Peters
  • 11Redmond
  • 17S Armstrong
  • 23Tella
  • 24Elyounoussi
  • 27Diallo
  • 35Bednarek
  • 43Valery
  • 44Forster
Referee:
Andy Madley
Attendance:
38,487

Match Stats

Home TeamEvertonAway TeamSouthampton
Possession
Home48%
Away52%
Shots
Home14
Away6
Shots on Target
Home6
Away3
Corners
Home6
Away8
Fouls
Home13
Away15

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Everton 3, Southampton 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Everton 3, Southampton 1.

  3. Substitution

    Substitution, Everton. Anthony Gordon replaces Richarlison.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Allan (Everton).

  5. Post update

    Ibrahima Diallo (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Attempt saved. Alex Iwobi (Everton) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Richarlison with a through ball.

  7. Post update

    Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Ibrahima Diallo (Southampton) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse with a cross.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Lucas Digne (Everton).

  10. Post update

    Che Adams (Southampton) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton).

  12. Post update

    Jack Stephens (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Lucas Digne.

  14. Post update

    Hand ball by Lucas Digne (Everton).

  15. Post update

    Lucas Digne (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by James Ward-Prowse (Southampton).

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Southampton. Nathan Redmond replaces Romain Perraud.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Everton. Yerry Mina replaces Demarai Gray.

  19. Goal!

    Goal! Everton 3, Southampton 1. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) header from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Richarlison with a cross.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Southampton. Nathan Tella replaces Theo Walcott.

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