Ramiro Funes Mori was the beneficiary as Ronald Koeman decided to pull Phil Jagielka from the starting XI again after his start against Hull just three days ago.
Everton 3 - 0 Southampton
Everton kicked off 2017 with the first of three successive home games in league and cup as Southampton made the long trip to Merseyside.
Ronald Koeman named a youthful line-up to face Southampton, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin making his full debut and Tom Davies in midfield. Funes Mori returned to the defence with Jagielka and Barry sitting on the bench where Mirallas and Valencia were rested, with Lennon starting.
For the visitors, their impressive centre-back Virgil van Dijk iwas suspended; Maya Yoshida replaced him.
Leighton Baines led the team out to a bright but cold Goodison Park and Ross Barkley got things going prior to the required hoof upfield from Ashley Williams. Everton's forward play was stymied by Southampton pressing, Davies responding with some physical challenges. Cedric remained down after Baines had sent him sliding off the pitch onto the path, and was eventually replaced with a head wound.
At the other end, the ball came to Barkley and he tried a shot into the ground that Forster needed to save. Davies linked well with Lennon. Calvert-Lewin fell awkwardly after showing plenty of spirit trying to drive the Blues forward but he could no longer continue and Mirallas came on very early to replace him. A massive disappointment for the young lad.
The visitors came worryingly close when Redmond came in at the far post on a high header from Williams but headed well over. More stoppages made it a very scrappy start but Baines forced the pace and got in a low cross that was too close to Forster.
Funes Mori was easily pushed off a defensive header and Tadic got loose as a result, winning a corner and the Blues struggled to clear their lines but they did and Lukaku got the ball to his feet but was driven wide for his weak shot.
Gueye gave the ball away as an attack was building, and the Blues were pressed back again, and a horrible ball back from Barkley almost put Funes Mori in trouble but they held position only to build with numerous cross-field passes and little forward progression.
A more lively attack developed but the ball pinged around with some poor crosses until it went out for a corner and from the second, the visitors attacked with pace and got the ball in the net but illegally, Rodriguez offside as he handballed over the line.
A Mirallas shot was deflected behind for another corner but Southampton were defending stoutly, Davies's shot blocked. Barkley got in a good cross that Lukaku was ready for but Fonte intercepted. Davies showed determination but the opponents were perhaps too physical for him an effective in keeping the Blues outside their area.
Everton were winning corners but nothing of note was coming from them, as the Blues found it hard to chisel an opening, while the Saints always looked threatening coming forward, the Blues not helping with misplaced passes. Rodriguez turned Davies brilliantly and beat Williams but fired over.
A much better move, back to front in three passes, saw Mirallas scampering forward but he lashed his shot over the bar. But generally the Blues had laboured in possession, Davies's enthusiasm getting nipped in the bud by some resolute Saints blocking and tackling.
Redmond got a free header before the break that he could only glance well wide. As has been the norm, it was a horrible half of football to watch, with chances and quality football very sparse on the ground.
The abysmal football continued after the break, Lennon failing to keep an easy ball from Gueye in play. The ball proceeded to bobble around in the general direction of Robles in goal for him to whack it away. Everton did win a corner but the second ball from Gueye was shockingly lacking. Lumped balls gave Lukaku little to chase, free-kicks played backward to Robles receiving deserved derision from sections of the Goodison crowd.
A moment of inventiveness from Davies almost released Lennon but the Saints defence were quick to stifle the life out of him. The shows a bit more desire to chase down 50/50 bobble balls, of which there were legion.
Lennon on for Valencia... would that make any difference? Incredibly yes, a great cross his first contribution but behind Mirallas at the far post. Then a corner won off Coleman's cross and a corner from Barkley actually finding by a Blue shirt.
Lukaku won the ball in midfield and drove forward but his shot was simply horrible, scuffed wide. Coleman looked to get behind the Saints line but was well offside. Barkley and Coleman linked better to win another corner but this one headed away and the second ball stalled again by the seemingly impenetrable mass of red-and-white stripped shirts.
At the other end, Redmond got free and seemed set to score but hesitated and Robles was out to block well. And for a few minutes, it became end-to-end, with Lukaku getting a ball to chase only for him to overhit is first touch out of play. It was enough to make a grown man weep at times such was the abject paucity of what passes for Premier League football.
Queue a goal! And it was Valencia who powered the ball over the line from close range after Lukaku's nailed-on header was well saved by Forster, the big man himself having played in Coleman to make the cross off a brilliant first-time flick out to the right. A goal that had seemed almost impossible...
Mirallas got the ball forward to Lukaku who tried to curl one into the top corner but it was a foot too high. Barkley played the ball nicely and Mirallas played in by Gueye to Valencia who was fouled by Yoshida... Penalty! Up stepped Capn Baines, SCORE!
The game suddenly seemed a radically different affair, Barkley almost creating magic at one end and Rodriguez so close to beating Robles. Barkley went off to a great round of applause, Barry coming on to hold things down for the final 5 mins or so.
Williams pulled off an incredible clearance to a goalbound effort from a Southampton corner, and The Saints almost repeated the feat from the other side, Coleman this time preventing Rodriguez from scoring.
Barry once again showed his vision and skill with some exquisite passing and, when the ball came to Lukaku, he ripped the net with a rocket after a beautiful pass from Davies to make it 3-0 in the 89th minutes. What a fantastic game of Premier League football!!!
Everton: Robles, Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines, Gueye, Davies, Lennon (61' Valencia), Barkley (85' Barry), Calvert-Lewin (11' Mirallas), Lukaku.
Subs not Used: Hewelt, Jagielka, Cleverley, Holgate.
Southampton: Forster, Cedric (6' Stephens), Yoshida, Fonte, McQueen, Ward-Prowse [Y:40'], Romeu, Clasie (77' Long), Redmond, Rodriguez, Tadic (67' Boufal).
Subs: Davis, Reed, Bertrand, Lewis.
Referee: Kevin Friend
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