Rafael Benítez kicked off his managerial stint for Everton with a thrilling 3-1 victory over Southampton, thanks to goals from Richarlison, Abdoulaye Doucouré, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. All three of those goals came in the second half for the home side.
The game was a tale of two halves. Southampton started the game brightly with Oriol Romeu, Moussa Djenepo, and Valentino Livramento some of the standouts from the opening exchanges. New signing Adam Armstrong broke the deadlock after Che Adams teed him up following an absolute blunder from Michael Keane. Southampton dominated the duels in the first half and should have at least doubled their advantage.
The second half, however, saw Everton coming out all guns blazing. Richarlison latched onto a loose ball in the box that hit the underneath of the crossbar and into the back of the net. That goal set the tone for Everton to turn the game around in front of their Goodison Park supporters.
Here are the Player Ratings from the game:
Jordan Pickford (GK) (7/10): Handled the ball well and was never troubled much. Several punches through the air during corners and set-pieces.
Séamus Coleman (7.5/10): Had a match-high 5 tackles. Was very good defensively and also combined well with Andros Townsend on the right-wing. Also registered 1 key pass, 2 interceptions, 2 clearances.
Mason Holgate (7/10): Apart from clearing the ball that led to Armstrong’s goal, Holgate did not put a foot wrong. He was everywhere to thwart potential attacks and ended the game with 6 clearances.
Michael Keane (5.5/10): Keane’s mistake led to the goal as he fiddled with the ball needlessly in his own half. However, his cross-field passes helped Everton switch the play.
Lucas Digne (6.5/10): Was a good presence on the left flank but did look rusty during phases of the game. Completed 2 key passes and kept Theo Walcott quiet all evening.
Allan (6/10): Had a forgettable first half but grew into the game in the second half. Had 3 clearances.
Abdoulaye Doucouré (7.5/10): The Frenchman was a ball of energy for Everton. Scored the winning goal that was an absolute delight to watch. Pulled the strings well from the base of the midfield.
Andros Townsend (7.5/10): His left-footed crosses in the box created a lot of problems for the Southampton defenders and goalkeeper. Couldn’t show as much pace at times but proved himself on the right of Everton’s front three. Assisted Richarlison’s opener.
Demarai Gray (6.5/10): Played as a central attacking midfielder and was decent behind the striker. Beat his man for pace several times and his low crosses posed questions for Southampton defenders.
Richarlison (8/10): Did not have a convincing first half but took the game by the scruff of its neck in the second. Scored the equaliser and set Calvert-Lewin up for the third goal with an absolutely ridiculous cross.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (7/10): His diving header that got the third goal was crazy! He looked good as he won aerial duels and linked well with his fellow forwards.
Alex Iwobi (6.5/10): Replaced Andros Townsend on the right-hand side of the attack and assisted Doucouré’s goal.
Yerry Mina (NA)
Anthony Gordon (NA)
Alex McCarthy (GK) (5/10): Could’ve and should’ve done better for the 2nd and 3rd Everton goals.
Valentino Livramento (7/10): The 18-year old showed maturity beyond his years as he was one of the best Southampton players. Showed a lot of skill, temperament, and technique as the right-back, while also being able defensively.
Mohammed Salisu (6.5/10): Had a fantastic first half as he commanded the defence like a leader. Couldn’t do much in the second half but completed the game with 5 clearances.
Jack Stephens (5.5/10): Couldn’t cope with Everton’s pressure in the second half. Finished the game with 2 tackles, 1 interception, and 1 clearance.
Romain Perraud (5.5/10): Couldn’t contribute much offensively and was troubled by Townsend and Gray several times. His link-up with Djenepo was interesting to watch though.
Theo Walcott (5/10): Walcott was a ghost all night long as he couldn’t make his former team pay.
James Ward-Prowse (6.5/10): Completed the most passes for a Southampton player. Was a vital cog in midfield in the first half and was brilliant while defending too.
Moussa Djenepo (7/10): Djenepo was a nuisance on the left-wing. His pace was just too good for Everton players but always seemed to take a touch or two more than he should’ve.
Che Adams (7/10): Was a threat down the centre. Set Armstrong up for a debut goal.
Adam Armstrong (7/10): Got a goal on debut, couldn’t have asked for more. But he would’ve hoped to be on the winning side. Was sharp and had a good first touch.
Ibrahima Diallo (5/10): Nothing much apart from the one-shot that he took.
Nathan Tella (NA)
Nathan Redmond (NA)