January 21, 2013
Southampton 0-0 Everton
If any Southampton fans brought along their white handkerchiefs to St Mary's tonight, they remained firmly tucked away in their pockets as the Saints went toe-to-toe with Everton in Mauricio Pochettino's first game in charge.
A planned protest against the acrimonious sacking of Nigel Adkins with the waving of handkerchiefs, a tradition amongst restless Spanish fans, failed to materialise as Southampton outplayed the Toffees for much of their Barclays Premier League encounter, with only their finishing letting them down.
The hosts started well under their new Argentinian boss, who was greeted with a warm reception by the home fans, and created all of the early chances.
Gaston Ramirez and Rickie Lambert, both recalled by Pochettino, combined after just four minutes with Everton defender Phil Jagielka almost turning in Lambert's cross for an own goal.
Jason Puncheon was next to come close for the Saints when his low shot was deflected just wide of the post, before Ramirez forced a smart save out of Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard with only 13 minutes on the clock.
Lambert then came close to breaking the deadlock when he saw his 25-yard free-kick rattle Howard's right-hand post.
It was the Southampton skipper who again caused havoc for the Everton defence as a clever touch took him inside Leighton Baines before Howard was forced to push his effort back into the middle of the area.
Referee Neil Swarbrick waved away penalty claims from the home side on 32 minutes after defender Maya Yoshida went down under pressure from Sylvain Distin with Southampton still very much on top.
The chances started to add up for Pochettino's side as club-record signing Ramirez again tested Howard, who was equal to the Uruguay international's effort.
The Everton goal was living a charmed life as the resulting corner saw Lambert's header hacked off the line by a combination of Nikica Jelavic and Baines, with Jos Hooiveld's follow-up shot saved by Howard.
Lambert was guilty of missing a fantastic effort as half-time edged closer with Southampton truly dominating an out-of-sorts Toffees side.
Puncheon delivered a pinpoint cross after some decent work down the left flank but Lambert could not add to his 10 league goals this season as he headed wide from 12 yards.
Pochettino's first half-time team-talk would have been a simple one, even with the use of an interpreter, with his players only needing to translate their dominance and chances into the opening goal.
But it was Everton who almost grabbed the opening goal of the contest, with Marouane Fellaini twice being denied by Artur Boruc in quick succession.
The Belgian controlled a cross before firing at Boruc, who then held Fellaini's header from the resulting corner.
The visitors were slowly getting a foothold in the game, although David Moyes was forced into a change with Victor Anichebe replacing the injured Coleman just before the hour.
Jelavic then fluffed his lines as Anichebe burst through the Saints' defence before pulling the ball back to the Croatian, who could not make meaningful contact when in front of Boruc.
Anichebe was again involved when he forced another save from the Polish goalkeeper after being slipped in by Fellaini as the home side struggled to rekindle the intensity of their first-half display.
Everton were starting to produce a carbon-copy of Southampton's opening 45 minutes as they again wasted a good chance when substitute Kevin Mirallas, making his first appearance since December 9 after recovering from a hamstring problem, fired wide after some good control inside the Saints' penalty area.
Moyes' side had scored in their previous nine away games but it was Southampton who ended the match on top, although they could not find a way through Everton's resolute defensive line to give Pochettino a winning start to his Southampton career.
|31 Artur Boruc||24 Tim Howard|
|4 Morgan Schneiderlin||18 Phil Neville|
|23 Luke Shaw||3 Leighton Baines|
|3 Maya Yoshida||6 Phil Jagielka|
|2 Nathaniel Clyne||23 Seamus Coleman|
|42 Jason Puncheon||21 Leon Osman|
|5 Jos Hooiveld||14 Steven Naismith|
|21 Guilherme Do Prado||7 Nikica Jelavic|
|7 Rickie Lambert||15 Sylvain Distin|
|10 Gaston Ramirez||22 Steven Pienaar|
|18 Jack Cork||25 Marouane Fellaini|
|1 Kelvin Davis||Thomas Hitzlsperger 16|
|22 Frazer Richardson||John Heitinga 5|
|27 Richard Chaplow||Victor Anichebe 28|
|13 Daniel Fox||Jan Mucha 1|
|33 Steve De Ridder||Shane Duffy 34|
|9 Jay Rodriguez||Bryan Oviedo 8|
|8 Steven Davis||Kevin Mirallas 11|
|Jay Rodriguez for Guilherme Do Prado (62)||Victor Anichebe for Seamus Coleman (58)|
|Steven Davis for Gaston Ramirez (71)||Kevin Mirallas for Nikica Jelavic (67)|
|Steve De Ridder for Jason Puncheon (87)|
|Jos Hooiveld (23)||Leon Osman (52)|
|Morgan Schneiderlin (39)|
|· Squads: Southampton | Everton|