Southampton eased to a comfortable 2-0 win over Everton at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon, marking a fourth Premier League game unbeaten.
The result strengthens their place in the top half of the table and pushes Everton further into a relegation battle.
Stuart Armstrong and substitute Shane Long scored the decisive goals in the second half, with the score-line arguably flattering a very poor visiting Toffees in the end.
Jordan Pickford had to be alert straightaway to deny Armando Broja an early goal and soon after was on hand again to palm a James Ward-Prowse free-kick wide of the post. That was followed by a much tamer effort from Mohamed Elyounoussi and then a point-blank save from a Broja effort.
The Saints also appealed for a penalty when the ball struck the hand of Mason Holgate, but the defender was adjudged to have his arm in a natural position. Kyle Walker-Peters later grazed the outside of the post for the hosts in the closing stages of the first half.
Everton, meanwhile, were struggling to make any noteworthy chances. Dominic Calvert-Lewin did have the ball in the net soon after the restart, poking in a cross from deep, only to see a flag ensure it wouldn’t count - it would have been massively against the run of play.
Southampton’s lead was deserved when it finally came, although it stemmed from an Everton mistake giving the ball away cheaply. Oriol Romeu pounced on it and drove into the box, finding Che Adams, who had the presence of mind to lay it off for Armstrong to curl into the bottom corner.
The Saints, while already dominant, appeared to grow in confidence after that. Armstrong landed the ball just on the roof of the net from distance shortly after Adams had tested Pickford with a close-range flick towards goal. Elyounoussi somehow headed over from underneath the crossbar.
Pickford looked increasingly angry with the Everton defenders in front of him as the game wore on as it was so easy for Southampton to get the ball into good positions in and around the box. A low save from Walker-Peters continued to keep the score-line at 1-0.
The late second goal came just seconds after Long had come off the bench and eased any Southampton nerves that may have been brewing. It characterised Everton’s day, with no pressure on the ball and Long able to nod in at the far post from Tino Livramento’s deep cross.
Southampton player ratings
1. Goalkeeper & defenders
Fraser Forster (GK) - 6/10 - Had very little to do.
Tino Livramento (RB) - 7/10 - Looked to join in attacks as often as he could and provided the cross for Long's goal.
Jan Bednarek (CB) - 6/10 - Hit the bar in the first half but was offside.
Mohammed Salisu (CB) - 6/10 - Contained Calvert-Lewin well.
Kyle Walker-Peters (LB) - 8/10 - Got forward really well and was involved in most of Southampton's best attacks.
Stuart Armstrong (RM) - 8/10 - Worked hard with and without the ball and got his reward with a well-taken breakthrough goal.
James Ward-Prowse (CM) - 7/10 - Great on the ball in open play and at set-pieces. A real leader's performances.
Oriol Romeu (CM) - 8/10 - His best work was in a defensive capacity but he actually played a huge part in breaking the deadlock by driving forward.
Mohamed Elyounoussi (LM) 7/10 - Won the ball back for the goal and provided a threat on the left flank.
Che Adams (ST) - 7/10 - A willing runner in general build up play and registered an assist when he laid it off for Armstrong to score.
Armando Broja (ST) - 7/10 - Tested Pickford a few times and was always asking questions and playing on the shoulder of the defenders.
Shane Long (ST) - 7/10 - Scored the killer second goal just seconds after coming off the bench.
Adam Armstrong (ST) - N/A
Everton player ratings
5. Goalkeeper & defenders
Jordan Pickford (GK) - 8/10 - Continually made saves for 90 minutes. Without him, this would have been really embarrassing for Everton.
Seamus Coleman (RB) - 4/10 - Easily beaten to the ball by Long for the second goal.
Mason Holgate (CB) - 4/10 - Survived penalty shouts when the ball struck his hand. His positioning throughout the game seemed questionable.
Michael Keane (CB) - 3/10 - His sloppy pass directly led to Southampton taking the lead and his response to that was also poor.
Jonjoe Kenny (LB) - 4/10 - No pressure on the cross when Southampton scored the killer second.
Alex Iwobi (RM) - 4/10 - Contributed so little of note.
Allan (CM) - 3/10 - Forced to walk the line after a reckless early yellow card and could have got another in quick succession. Withdrawn at half-time.
Donny van de Beek (CM) - 4/10 - The game just passed him by.
Anthony Gordon (LM) - 6/10 - Showed some sparks from open play but it wasn't enough for him to impact the game on his own.
Richarlison (ST) - 4/10 - Looked like he could create something towards the end of the first half but became less involved after that.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (ST) - 4/10 - Forced to feed off scraps and was perhaps lucky to escape with yellow for a bad challenge on Salisu.
Andre Gomes (CM) - 2/10 - Brought on t give Everton more in midfield but it ended up costing them when his slip and mis-control handed Southampton a goal - it was a poor pass into him, though. Might as well not have bothered.
Andros Townsend (RM) - 3/10 - Made no difference.
Dele Alli (CM) - 3/10 - Was never the right player to change things.