Scroll to photostream above left for match photos. For stats, click on the statistics tab. Match reaction below.
New Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino watched his team hold Everton to a goalless draw in the Barclays Premier League at St Mary’s.The former Espanyol coach, who replaced Nigel Adkins on Friday in a shock move, would have been impressed at how his team fared so soon after his appointment, especially during a one-sided first half, although the better chances fell to David Moyes’s team after the break.
The draw hit Everton’s hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. They are five points behind Tottenham Hotspur in fourth, while the point kept Southampton in 15th but four points above the relegation zone.
Southampton dominated the first half and Pochettino must have wondered how his new team did not head into half-time with a substantial lead. Winger Jason Puncheon saw a shot deflected wide while Everton defender Phil Jagielka almost put a cross from the right into his own net, all within the opening 10 minutes. Tim Howard was also at full stretch to turn behind a deflected shot from Gaston Ramirez.
The American was called into action again in the 20th minute to claw away a Rickie Lambert free-kick from 30 yards via a post and then to rush out and claim from Puncheon just as the winger looked to be through. At the other end Saints goalkeeper Artur Boruc was forced into action, saving Steven Naismith’s fierce shot.
Howard was then quick to turn round Ramirez’s shot after a mazy run. From the resulting corner Lambert saw his header cleared off the line before the ball came back to Jos Hooiveld but the Dutchman could only direct his shot at Howard. The pressure was not off Everton for long and Lambert first forced Howard into a good save and then had a free header from a cross by Luke Shaw but steered it wide.
After the break Everton emerged with more vigour and almost took the lead in the 51st minute on two occasions through Marouane Fellaini. A deep cross fell to the feet of the Belgian but his shot was repelled well by the legs of Boruc. The Everton midfielder had another chance from the resulting corner but his header was straight at the Polish goalkeeper.
Everton were forced into a change when Seamus Coleman suffered a thigh injury and Victor Anichebe came on with Phil Nevile switching to right-back on his 36th birthday but their growing momentum was not lost as Leon Osman saw his rising shot headed over by Maya Yoshida. On 61 minutes Nikica Jelavic had a great chance but got his feet wrong 12 yards in front of goal from Anichebe’s cross. That was the Croat’s final contribution as he was replaced by Kevin Mirallas after 66 minutes. A minute later Boruc did well to stick out his right hand and save Anichebe’s shot after the forward was played in by Fellaini as Everton’s pressure continued to grow. Anichebe then crossed to Mirallas, who worked himself some space but could not keep his shot on target.
Southampton were unable to maintain their workrate and movement of the first half but they did create the occasional chance. Lambert’s far post header from a corner on 83 minutes brushed the top of Howard’s bar. In injury-time Everton broke some late Southampton pressure and Mirallas shot from distance but it was a comfortable save for Boruc.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino: “I’m very happy with the performance. The players put in a great effort tonight, and I want to congratulate them on that. Also the fans I’m very proud of, who they are, and how they’ve taken me in tonight.
“As for the game, we created several chances against a very good Everton side, so we’ve established how we want to carry forward in the future. I really wanted my players to focus on being offensive against Everton as we really wanted to be attacking-minded, so we’re working the long balls and a high defensive line.
“We worked a lot on pressuring them a lot and their attack with how their midfield players link up to attack so we were just concentrating on vertical, high-speed football.”
“Everything I was told about Southampton supporters is true, they’re very kind and they really support their team so I just want to repay them with honesty and work as I’m very proud to be their manager.”
Everton manager David Moyes: "We got better after we had a word at half-time. The chance for Nikica Jelavic was a real big chance but we are a little bit like that at the moment. This time last year we were stealing the goals but it will come.
"We are in a good position and we have as much chance of anyone of getting that fourth spot. Kevin Mirallas and Victor Anichebe made an impact for us and a draw here is not a bad result."
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|30 Mar 2013||v Chelsea (H)|