Date:Sunday December 29 2013
Sunday, December 29, 13:30
Everton bounced back from their shock 1-0 loss to Sunderland with a hard fought and gritty 2-1 win over a very good Southampton side to round out a largely positive 2013. Seamus Coleman scored his 5th goal of the campaign in the 10th minute to give Everton the early lead. However, Southampton responded brilliantly to the set back, and it took up until 70mins to find a deceived equaliser courtesy of a 35yd strike from substitute Ramirez. However, the deadlock was broken once again less than 3mins later when Lukaku broke his 5 game barron spell to fire home Everton's second and grab the 3pts. The result sees Everton jump into the top 4 at the expense of neighbours Liverpool.
Everton made 5 changes to the side that lost to Sunderland. In what was a largely make shift Everton side, Robles, Naismith, Baines, Alcaraz and Barkley were inserted into the line up at the expense of the suspended duo Howard and Barry, with Pienaar and Mirallas deemed not fit enough to start the game and Jagielka suffering a hamstring injury and ruled out completely. Southampton brought back Lovren, as well as changing keepers to Davies and inserting Ward Prowse into the line up.
It was a lively start to the match with both sides, especially Southampton looking to press high and force the other side into turnovers. Everton were the first side to create a chance of note when the impressive Barkley managed to get a foot onto the Seamus Coleman cross, however Davies was up to the task and made a routine save.
Southampton did not heed this warning and in the 10th minute Everton found themselves ahead courtesy of the in form Coleman. The Irishman picked up the ball on the right flank and decided to take on Ward Prowse and cut inside onto his left, he then cut back to his right and unleashed a powerful strike that flew into the side netting leaving Saints keeper with little chance and giving Everton the early lead.
However, to Southampton's credit they pushed on in search of the equaliser and for the rest of the 1st half it was a rather even and tight affair with the majority of play taking place in the midfielder, with neither side really testing the keepers. It took Southampton right up until the stroke of half time to muster their best chance of the half and it fell to captain Adam Lallana. Lallana showed brilliant technique and managed to beat 2 Everton players and found himself one on one with Robles however Lallana could only scuff his shot wide.
Entering half time, it was a very even game with perhaps Everton slightly shading it, however in the 2nd half it was Southampton who really upped it another gear and took it to the makeshift Everton side. Southampton continued to press the Everton defence into mistakes, however, the Saints could not really test Everton keeper Robles, who only really had to deal with crosses. That was until the 70th minute mark where Ramirez picked up the ball from 35yds, after gliding past McCarthy, Ramirez decided to take a shot, the ball swerved in the air and went right through Roble's hand to give Southampton the deserved equaliser. Although ti was a terrific strike from Ramirez, the Everton keeper will be disappointed that he did not save that as the ball went literally right through his hands.
This sparked Everton into action and less than 3mins later Everton restored their advantage courtesy of Lukaku, however James McCarthy played a big role in the goal. Pienaar picked up the ball on the left flank, he then saw McCarthy's run from deep and played him through, the Irishman then had the presence of mind to flick the ball with the outside of his foot into the path of Lukaku who made no mistake with the finish giving Davies no chance.
Everton then nearly found a third as Lukaku jinked his way past 3 Southampton players but his shot flew over the bar. Southampton put Everton under some real pressure in the closing stages with Everton defending exclusively in their own half, however the Saints did not muster any chances on the Everton goal and Everton managed to get the hard fought 3pts.
It was a big result for Everton, the performance wasn't exactly great, but missing half your starting XI is bound to have an effect so Everton will be happy just getting the 3pts against a very well organised and talented Southampton side. After the disappointment of the Sunderland game, the Everton players showed their fight and will in this game and it was a massive result for the Toffees who now see themselves inside the top 4 at the expense of their pesky neighbours Liverpool for the time being. Everton will open the new year with an away trip to the Brittania to face Stoke, which is bound to be another hard fought match.
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Date:Sunday December 29 2013
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