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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 29 September 2012; 3:00pm
Everton 
3 1
 So'hampton
 Osman (25'), Jelavić (32', 38')
Half Time: 2 - 1
Ramirez (6')  
Attendance: 37,922
Fixture 6
Referee: Lee Probert

Match Summary

Everton were looking to get back to normal service after Tuesday's 'blip' at Leeds, with the full compliment of established first-teamers returning, except for the very surprising inclusion of Heitinga in place of Distin, who was on the bench. For Southampton, no Daniel Fox, once of this parish.

Everton put in a nice early attack with Baines crossing for Jelavić. But Southampton didn't look too fazed and Ramirez scored with frustrating simplicity from their first corner in the 6th minute, with Howard making a pathetic attempt at intercepting the cross that was only 2 yards in front of his line. Shocking goalkeeping!

It was certainly not the start everyone had been expecting, and giving up the all-important first goal saw what confidence they might have started with evaporate in the warm September sun. Rodriguez then broke down the right and could have made it worse but drove wide with only Howard to beat. It looked like Everton should have had a penalty when Jelavić was chopped down but Richardson had got the ball away from him legally.

Jelavić came close to scoring with a great looping header that was clawed away from the angle, Fellaini following up could not force it in.

The attacks were getting better from Everton and on 25 mins they got the reward with an equalizer from Osman who lashed a loose ball gleefully into the top corner of the Gwladys Street net after Mirallas's hard cross gave Jelavić a difficult task but the ball fell in open play with Osman following in perfectly.

Jelavić was going to ground rather frequently and not earning anything from the referee. Some wonderful movement from the back, straight through the middle of the park, produced a wonderful goal from Nikica Jelavić to put Everton in charge after 32 minutes. Mirallas bought the ball forward with conviction, exchanged short passes with Fellaini, then strode forward and played Jelavić into the left channel, where the first-touch king had plenty of work to do, controlling the ball well before placing an excellent shot along the ground and into the far side of the goal.

Confidence restored, and with the Goodison crowd off their backs, Everton started to surge forward in waves. Some scintillating football made those parallels with Barcelona not too far off the mark.

And in the follow-up to one of those attacks, an excellent set-up by Coleman who did brilliantly to dance inside one defender on the sideline, scamper into the area, beat another man and cross superbly right onto Jelavić's head, despite the very narrow angle at the far post. The iceman's header was too powerful for Gazzaniga who could only punch it into the roof of the net, to everyone's delight. 3 nice goals in 15 mins!!

Jelavić could have had his hat-trick but chose to head Mirallas's superb cross back for Fellaini rather than burying it. Some scintillating possession football in the minutes before time was worthy of another goal, Everton winning a couple of corners, and Fellaini almost got it at the end of the half, hitting the bar with a trademark header.

More confident possession play started the second half. But Soton got some of their own and finally put a shot in. Jagielka then had to be alert to deny Lambert. Jelavić won a corner but the training ground routine proved a little too intricate as Baines played it over the byeline.

A Baines corner was just too high for Jelavić. Then a sweeping move, Coleman and Mirallas linking brilliantly down the right, crossing a little deep for Jelavić who controlled it superbly and played it back to Osman whose curling shot seemed destined for the corner but went just wide with Gazzaniga scrambling to cover. Fellaini tried to drill one in again after brutishly tossing a defender aside.

Everton seemed to be getting a little bit complacent and almost guilty of letting the red shirts get a little too close to Tim Howard, who now had the sun in his eyes. Fortunately, their final ball was poor enough that it didn't really trouble the Everton defence.

Mirallas sought glory when given time on the ball outside the area but his strong shot was too close to Gazzaniga. Gaston, came very close to getting a goal back, getting behind the Everton defence and clipping the ball past Howard but saw it shepherded past the post by a thankful Jagielka.

David Moyes had gone well past his normal time for the first sub to freshen things up, and his players seemed to be happy with the two-goal lead, which only served to give Southampton hope for a fight. He finally made the switch with 15 mins left, taking off Jelavić for joint leading scorer Anichebe.... soon followed by Oviedo replacing Mirallas, with a strangely hairless Pienaar switching to the right side.

It didn't really have the desired effect, however, as the relaxed controlling football from Everton continued, with Howard having to make a very smart save to keep the score down and retain the prospect of moving up to a heady 2nd place in the Premier League.

Leon Osman was given the honour of crowd appreciation for his contribution in the added 3 mins, replaced by Distin as the Blues played out a pleasing win, despite taking their foot well off the pedal in the second half.

Michael Kenrick

 

Match Report

Everton moved into second place in the Premier League with their fourth win in six games with another three-goal blast but it required an impressive recovery from a sluggish start that saw them fall behind to Southampton as early as the sixth-minute.

Nikica Jelavić marked his return to the starting line-up with two goals before half time, building on Leon Osman's 25th-minute equaliser, but he will have to wait for a first hat-trick in the Royal Blue Jersey after David Moyes's side took their foot almost entirely off the pedal in the second half.

With Darron Gibson and Tony Hibbert out injured, Moyes returned to his strongest available XI but his team were slow and disjointed out of the gates, prompting early fears that the League Cup disaster at Leeds United on Tuesday was still preying on the players' minds.

Southampton were exhibiting signs that manager Nigel Adkins had tasked them with having a go at their hosts and their energy in the opening few minutes yielded a corner that was dispatched from their left by Adam Lallana to the back post but close enough to Tim Howard where a routine punch might have cleared the danger.

The American appeared derelict in his duties, though, misjudging the flight of the ball and allowing Gaston Ramirez a routine header to put Saints 1-0 up. Howard's decision-making and lapses in aerial control of his six-yard box remain a concern, as does the Blues' propensity to give away sloppy goals this season.

Indeed, with better finishing by Jay Rodriguez after he had burned John Heitinga for pace and set up a one-on-one confrontation with Howard, Saints might have stunned Goodison by doubling their lead after 10 minutes. The striker shot across the face of goal, though, and the Blues escaped further damage.

Redemption at the other end, though, is always possible when you can create and score goals and when Everton eventually found their feet mid-way through the first half, the visitors' resistance was shattered by three strikes in 12 minutes.

It took the abandonment of the questionable, ineffective and unnecessary long-ball game for the Blues to shake off their early lack of fluidity going forward and both Osman and Kevin Mirallas came into their own with the ball now being pinged around on the deck.

The Belgian, always a danger with his quick thinking and speed, surged down the right and fired a cross towards Jelavić near the six-yard box. While the ball fell a little behind the Croatian and appeared to come off the back of his heels, it fell in invitingly into the path of Osman steaming in on the follow-up and he scooped it into the roof of the net from close range after 24 minutes.

Seven minutes later, the game had been turned on its head as the Blues carved through Southampton's midfield on a quick counter-attack. Marouane Fellaini fed Mirallas who threaded it through to Jelavić who looked to have made the chance harder by drifting too far wide in the box but he smacked a perfectly-hit shot back across Paolo Gazzaniga and home to make it 2-1.

Everton were firmly in control again and exhibiting more of that crowd-pleasing football that has been a hallmark of their best performances so far this season. And it took a great save by Gazzaniga to deny Jelavić a second nine minutes before the break when he pawed the Croatian international's header away from its intended destination in the top corner of the goal.

The inevitable was delayed for only a few more seconds, though; Everton kept the ball on their right where Seámus Coleman skinned his marker, whipped in a deep cross and Jelavić powered a header in at the back post that the 'keeper couldn't prevent from finding the net despite getting both hands to it.

Two quick headed chances for Fellaini one dispatched straight at Gazzaniga, the second bouncing off the crossbar and behind threatened to embarrass the newly-promoted Saints before the break but Adkins's side managed to escape into the dressing room without further damage to the scoreline.

The second half eventually became a decidedly less entertaining affair as complacency crept into an Everton side that is clearly getting to like the feeling of winning, but there were opportunities to extend the Blues' lead and evoke memories of that famous 7-1 drubbing of Southampton under Joe Royle 16 years ago.

Fellaini saw an excellent effort from distance deflect inches past the post and Heitinga's side-foot effort from the resulting corner was also prevented from creeping inside the post by a defender's leg. Osman then tried to bend home his second goal of the game from the edge of the area but he too had to watch his effort flash the wrong side of the post by the slenderest of margins.

Mirallas tested Gazzaniga with an impressive low shot mid-way through the second period and Steven Pienaar ruined a really promising breakaway with Southampton short on numbers with a loose pass that ruined the chance for Fellaini.

In between, Southampton regained a little composure and tried to find a way back into the match, perhaps sensing that another goal would sow some seeds of doubt in an Everton side clearly content to canter home in the closing stages.

Ramirez smashed a swerving shot that Howard did well to hold in the 69th minute and the goalscorer very nearly doubled his tally for the afternoon a minute later when he was put in behind the defence by Ricky Lambert's pass but his dinked shot looking for the far corner dropped the other side of the far post. And Howard had one more save to make with six to go when he beat Lambert's powerful header away to safety.

In terms of full entertainment, the home crowd might have come away a little disappointed because Southampton were clearly there for the mauling. Second place in the Premier League, ahead of the Manchester clubs and the media darlings from London, more than makes up for that, though indeed, it just makes one ponder the what-ifs of that refereeing debacle in the Newcastle game that robbed the Blues of the two points what would have had then joint-top with Chelsea.

Knowing that Moyes's thrillingly dynamic and dangerous attacking unit can now create and score goals from both flanks really helps fuel the optimism for what can be achieved this season if the injuries remain light and infrequent. Still too soon to be getting carried away, of course, but this is a great start and, with just one defeat in the last 16 stretching back to the end of last season, it keeps the momentum established in 2012 going.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

The Premier League's top four... the land of plenty where the clubs have big prospects and budgets to match; where fans can become so accustomed to success that getting out of Wembley's car park trumps witnessing your captain lift the FA Cup trophy; where managers build squads to cope with campaigns on multiple fronts but field weakened teams in domestic football's second-tier cup because it's deemed one fixture-crowding competition too many.

It's where Everton aspire to be... but are not yet there.

In 10 years at Goodison Park, David Moyes has yet to win a trophy, a fact that was inescapable as he passed that decade milestone in charge earlier this year and the Blues' run in the FA Cup extended into the last 16. He drew stinging criticism for sacrificing the Anfield derby by making six changes to a winning line-up as he prioritised the quarter-final tie against Sunderland and the run-up the subsequent semi-final against Liverpool was dominated by the manager's aching quest for silverware.

Add to all of that the fact that the selection of Jan Mucha was widely cited as a big reason why Everton went out of the League Cup in the fourth round at the hands of Chelsea last season and Moyes's starting line-up for the third-round tie against Leeds United on Tuesday was all the more bemusing. A raft of personnel changes to the side that trampled all over Swansea City at the weekend, a dreadful first half display and poor defending all directly contributed to another ignominious defeat for the Blues against lower-division opposition.

Of course, player rotation in the insert-sponsor-beginning-with-a-C Cup is nothing new, particularly in the early rounds, but while Moyes got away with it against Leyton Orient — thanks largely to a scintillating debut by Kevin Mirallas and a commanding 4-0 Everton lead at half time — the disruption to his side's rhythm was too great at Elland Road and he paid the price with another early exit.

With that debacle out of the way, it's back to Goodison Park for the visit of Southampton and another task of getting the season back on track following a disappointing result.

Those players rested for the League Cup tie will be drafted back into the starting line-up and Nikica Jelavić is likely to make his first start since coming off injured against Newcastle 12 days ago at the expense of Victor Anichebe.

Anichebe is doubtful for this weekend with a chest infection, as are Seámus Coleman and Steven Naismith, both of whom picked up knocks on Tuesday evening.

With Phil Neville likely to be restored to central midfield, perhaps the only question mark surrounds central defence where Moyes again has to choose between John Heitinga, Phil Jagielka (who sat out of the Leeds defeat) and Sylvain Distin. His decision is complicated by the fact that none of the central pairings he has used thus far have found much consistency, though the Frenchman was arguably one of the few to come out of Tuesday with much credit.

Darron Gibson is back in training but remains ruled out and Tony Hibbert will also be missing through injury.

With nothing but the Premier League to focus on between now and January, the Blues know what they have to do and a victory against the Saints would extend their good start to the campaign and keep them among the leaders in this early phase of the season.

Southampton have shown some enterprise and potency in patches at the St Mary's Stadium since their return the top flight but have struggled in their travels, losing their last outing 6-1 at the hands of Arsenal. That suggests that there should be some defensive weakness for the Blues to exploit while they keep an eye on hitman Ricky Lambert at the other end.

Lyndon Lloyd

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Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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Match Reports
2012-13 Reports Index
< Leeds Utd (H) Wigan (A) >
EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Coleman
  Jagielka
  Heitinga
  Baines
  Mirallas (80' Oviedo).
  Neville
  Osman (90+2' Distin)
  Pienaar
  Fellaini
  Jelavić (76' Anichebe)
  Subs not used
  Mucha
  Duffy
  Gueye
  Vellios
  Unavailable
  Gibson (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Barkley (loan)
  Bidwell (loan)
SO'HAMPTON (4-4-2)
  Gazzaniga
  Richardson
  Fonte
  Yoshida
  Clyne (81' Reeves)
  Ramirez
  S Davis
  Ward-Prowse
  Lallana (90' Chaplow)
  Lambert
  Rodriguez (81' Mayuka)
  Subs not used
  Hooiveld
  Do Prado
  K Davis
  Puncheon

Premier League Scores
Saturday
Arsenal 1 - 2 Chelsea
Everton 3 - 1 So'hampton
Fulham 1 - 2 Man City
Man United 2 - 3 Tottenham
Norwich 2 - 5 Liverpool
Reading 2 - 2 Newcastle
Stoke 2 - 0 Swansea
Sunderland 1 - 0 Wigan
Sunday
Aston Villa 1 - 1 West Brom
Monday
QPR 1 - 2 West Ham

Team Pts
1 Chelsea 16
2 Everton 13
3 Manchester United 12
4 Manchester City 12
5 Tottenham Hotspur 11
6 West Bromwich Albion 11
7 West Ham United 11
8 Arsenal 9
9 Fulham 9
10 Newcastle United 9
11 Swansea City 7
12 Stoke City 7
13 Sunderland 7
14 Liverpool 5
15 Aston Villa 5
16 Wigan Athletic 4
17 Southampton 3
18 Norwich City 3
19 Reading 2
20 Queens Park Rangers 2
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