First-half Lukaku double downs Southampton at Saint Mary’s
Everton finally broke their poor recent St Mary’s record by beating Southampton emphatically 3-0 in matchweek two of the 2015/16 season, after previously going six clashes there without a win and three without even a goal.
Romelu Lukaku was the hero for the visitors, following the club’s disappointing start to the new campaign last week by drawing to new boys Watford, as he bagged a first-half brace. He thus entered the all-time top 100 Premier League scorers list as a result.
But the Toffees can thank keeper Tim Howard for saving well from Saido Mane just before the Belgian’s opener, while Ross Barkley got the other goal late on.
Both teams fielded young left backs for the fixture, with England youth duo Matt Targett and Zimbabwe-born Brendan Galloway (both 19) being picked for the Saints and Everton respectively.
However, the latter showed signs of nerves early on as he fouled Lukaku just on the edge of the area in the sixth minute to earn himself a yellow card. Thankfully for the hosts, Ross Barkley wasn’t able to convert in the free-kick.
Before the first quarter-of-an-hour, Southampton had a whole host of chances, getting involved in a number of box scrambles too, but could not convert or even get a clean attempt on goal.
But five minutes later, Mane was the one to finally get a decent shot on target as he struck well from an angle on his left foot. Howard was equal to it, though, with a terrific save with his feet.
Just moments later, however, Everton capitalised on the missed opportunity as they broke out on the counter from a corner in their own half. Lukaku was the man to put the Toffees ahead, with a brilliant header from Arouna Kone’s cross that ended up in the top right hand corner of the net.
The big Belgian was involved in another attack after a few minutes, this time a clever flicked pass allowed James McCarthy in but Maarten Stekelenburg was able to palm away his tight-angled effort.
Momentum certainly shifted since the goal, this time Barkley could and should have scored as he was effectively one-on-one with the keeper but fired right at him. Tom Cleverley was wide with the rebound.
Southampton threatened to reply with 10 minutes of the half to go, this time from Mane again but he his headed effort was over the bar from a corner.
A minute before the break, though, Lukaku made it two after latching onto a Barkley ball along the ground to slot past Stekelenburg for his 44th Premier League strike.
Early in the second-half, the Saints started brightly again. Victor Wanyama managed to come close with a header from a corner but was just wide.
Graziano Pelle finally found his feet in the 52nd minute as he managed to get a fantastic volley on goal, but unfortunately for him it was straight at Howard.
There was at last some cheer for the home fans in the final quarter of the match, as Jay Rodriguez came on for his first Premier League appearance in 16 months.
The England forward’s inclusion did spur on the Saints briefly as Mane was involved in the action again late on, but his long-ranged strike was saved by an out-stretched Howard.
However, Everton soon piled on the misery to Southampton as Barkley, who was lively all day, rounded off a great move to curl home just inside the area to make it 3-0 with five minutes to go.
The final moments were rather tame, as the two teams knew the match was over, but Roberto Martinez will be very encouraged by the display to put his side on four points after two games.