Tuesday 21 November 2017

Second-half blitz leaves Koeman on the up

Everton 3-0 Southampton

Southampton manager Claude Puel (right) and Everton manager Ronald Koeman shake hands after the final whistle. Photo: PA
Southampton manager Claude Puel (right) and Everton manager Ronald Koeman shake hands after the final whistle. Photo: PA

Chris Bascombe

Ronald Koeman may have found it difficult to explain why he left a club seemingly on the way up at Southampton for the long-term reconstruction at Everton. But for the first time since his summer move from St Mary's, it could be argued the clubs are heading in different directions.

Enner Valencia's first goal for the club, Leighton Baines' penalty and a third for Romelu Lukaku put Everton six points clear of Koeman's former side, which probably says more about the two coaches than the relative quality of each squad.

The Saints are unrecognisable this season from the side Koeman led to respective seventh and sixth-place finishes. It is a worrying deterioration for his successor, Claude Puel.

Fixture congestion can be used in Southampton's mitigation but it is not the first colourless performance from them recently.

Nevertheless, Koeman was happy to concede Everton's freshness was a factor in their superiority. "In the last 30 minutes we were better because they had one day less to recover and we made the difference," he said.

Koeman's wish to add to his squad has not been disguised and it was telling he began 2017 by injecting fresh blood from his youth ranks.

Everton's Leighton Baines scores his side's second goal of the game from the penalty spot. Photo: PA
Everton's Leighton Baines scores his side's second goal of the game from the penalty spot. Photo: PA

Tom Davies (18) made his first start of the season, while 19-year-old striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin was also called up. It is the first time any Premier League side have begun with two teenagers this season.

But Everton could rely on Lukaku at his best. He was involved with the first goal on 73 minutes, meeting Seamus Coleman's cross and forcing Fraser Forster's save with his legs. Valencia pounced on the rebound.

Maya Yoshida's clumsy challenge on Valencia allowed Baines to add the second from the spot and Lukaku smashed in the third from Davies' pass.

Everton's Leighton Baines celebrates scoring their second goal. Photo: Reuters
Everton's Leighton Baines celebrates scoring their second goal. Photo: Reuters

Telegraph.co.uk

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