Everton breezed past Southampton to bury their dismal home run, with Abdoulaye Doucoure, Richarlison and debutant Demarai Gray shining.
After a slow start, Everton found their feet and rhythm to punish Southampton in Rafael Benitez’s first game in charge of the Toffees. The Spaniard, who once managed Liverpool, garnered criticism over his appointment but would have redeemed himself after his side played some attractive football.
Southampton went ahead in the game after a glaring error from Michael Keane that allowed new Saints signing Adam Armstrong to open his Premier League account. However, Richarlison, fresh from winning the Gold medal at the Olympics, equalised. Abdoulaye Doucoure then put the Toffees ahead with a brilliant strike from the edge of the box.
Further, Dominic Calvert-Lewin added a third to put the game beyond the visitors and collected all three points in the bag for Benitez. It’s not to say Southampton didn’t put up a fight. The Saints were in the game right up till Everton’s third goal, which more or less put the contest to rest.
This win allows Benitez to plan forward to the next game, and he will be pleased with the way some of his players performed. More so, his new signings also made their mark somewhat, especially Demarai Gray, who was a great presence with his pace and trickery on the left side of attack.
Here are the Everton player ratings from their win over Southampton.
Jordan Pickford – 7/10
A good game for the England international, although helpless to prevent the early strike from Armstrong. Overall his distribution was good, while he was alert to deal with most of the balls from James Ward-Prowse.
Seamus Coleman – 5.5/10
Coleman did not have the sharpest of games. Had some early exchanges with Andros Townsend on his side, and showed some attacking instinct. However, he was on his toes defending, with Moussa Djenepo tormenting him and beating for pace time and again. He should be thankful nothing major came out of those lapses.
Mason Holgate – 6/10
The Southampton attackers made him suffer throughout the first period while exploiting his lack of understanding with Keane at the back. However, Holgate recovered well in the second period and was comfortable with the ball, helping Everton not concede more than the early opener in the first half.
Michael Keane – 5/10
A fine second-half performance from Keane and a better understanding with Holgate prevented any more Southampton goals from being scored. However, his glaring error during the first half led directly to Armstrong scoring.
Lucas Digne – 5.5/10
A tale of two halves for Digne, who got pinned back defending his territory, though kept Walcott quiet on most occasions. However, he got his licence to roam forward and send those dangerous crosses in the second period.
Allan – 6.5/10
Great control of the midfield from Allan, who showed good composure and distribution. Always buzzing around the centre field and making forward plays for teammates to pick things from there. An effort on goal from distance was a notable moment, although there was an off-period during the first half for the midfielder.
Abdoulaye Doucoure – 8/10
This evening, Doucoure was a very sharp ball merchant, as he made his mark as an attacking threat for Everton. There were moments when he started dictating the attacking tempo and eventually got his goal to put Everton ahead.
Andros Townsend – 6.5/10
To answer his many critics, Townsend performed admirably on his debut. Put some of his trademark crosses into the box, and with time the likes of Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin will start to put them away. He would have been happy with the assist for Richarlison’s equaliser when he headed the ball into the Brazilian’s path.
Demarai Gray – 8/10
Initially starting in the No.10 role, Gray made the best opportunity afforded to him and shined. Later on, his displays elevated when operating from the left side, as he was the main point of attack till he was on the pitch.
Richarlison – 8/10
The Brazilian delivered yet another energetic performance. Many doubted his involvement after a summer of two full tournaments with Brazil. He was straight into the starting lineup, scored the equaliser and provided a valuable assist to Calvert-Lewin. An all-around performance from the forward.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – 7/10
When a striker is starved of chances, things can become grim inside the box, and players tend to drop their levels. Calvert-Lewin never did that and was on hand to nod home Richarlison’s cross into the net. Should be happy getting an opening day goal in consecutive seasons.
Alex Iwobi – 6/10
He immediately impacted coming off the bench when he fed Doucoure, who went on to score superbly. He was lively till the end of the game, although would be disappointed not to score late when presented with a chance.
Yerry Mina – 6/10
He came to shore up the defence when the game was already won, did fine.
Anthony Gordon – N/A
Very little time on the pitch to rate.