Richarlison scored his third goal in two Everton games and Theo Walcott opened his account for the campaign to ensure Marco Silva’ first Goodison Park match as Everton manager ended in victory.
Southampton striker Danny Ings converted from close range after the break to halve the visitors’ deficit. But Everton, whose wonderful first goal was born of training-ground invention and first-rate execution, were deserved winners.
Michael Keane tested Alex McCarthy on five minutes, the Southampton goalkeeper athletically springing to his left to save after Keane had met Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick from the right.
The Blues’ breakthrough arrived 10 minutes later. Sigurdsson, whose speed of foot and mind had already seen him targeted for a deal of uncompromising treatment, was too sharp for Wesley Hoedt, the Dutch defender who bundled the Everton man to the ground.
While Hoedt retreated to his own box to defend the resulting set-piece – and contemplate the prospect of 75 minutes perched on a disciplinary tightrope following his yellow card – Everton minds were right in the present.
Leighton Baines stood over the set-piece but the smart money was on Sigurdsson to deliver. Those punting on the outsider would have got the better bang for their buck.
Everton’s left-back rolled the ball short, catching most of Goodison Park by surprise. Not Schneiderlin. He was already on the move, coming deep to turn a pass around the corner for the equally alert Walcott.
Walcott still had a job on, the winger in on goal but presented with the formidable barrier of McCarthy. The keeper stayed tall, Walcott took a touch. We had a stand off.
McCarthy blinked first, going to ground in anticipation of Walcott striking across him. The Everton man did the exact opposite, finishing into the smallest of gaps at the near post and outfoxing his adversary, whose contact on the ball was not sufficient to prevent it from ending its journey in the back of the net.
Southampton entered this game with plenty of intrigue surrounding their potential approach to the contest.
Saints improved exponentially in their scoreless draw with Burnley last week after swapping their three-at-the-back formation for a regulation back four.
And Mark Hughes kicked the three-man defence into the long grass here. That meant Ings and Charlie Austin being deployed together in attack and that pair led their team’s pursuit of an equaliser.
Austin, who had already headed off target from a James Ward-Prowse free-kick on 10 minutes, found his space gobbled up by the advancing Jordan Pickford when slipped through by Ings on 28 minutes.
Between times, Ings reacted quickest after Pickford had kept out Cedric Soares’s strike from distance but saw his rising effort clatter the woodwork.
Everton’s second goal just past the half-hour was simple but breakthaking. Seamus Coleman slid a pass to Walcott down the right and with the metaphorical wind at his back the winger whipped over an inviting delivery which Richarlison – speeding into the box – headed emphatically into the net.
Southampton were busy after the break. Keane blocked Ings at close quarters and the same defender cleared after Austin skilfully fashioned space to cross from the right.
And on 54 minutes, Ings intervened to put the game on a knife-edge. Mario Lemina leapt at the front post to glance on Ward-Prowse’s right-wing corner and find Ings stealing umarked into the Blues penalty area to prod home.
Walcott had the ball in the net again midway through the second half only to see his effort chalked off with Cenk Tosun having drifted marginally offside during an express build-up.
Sigurdsson evaded a wild challenge in the box to tee up Walcott for another strike at goal – but the forward’s radar was off this time and his shot flashed past the far post.
Southampton sniffed an opportunity to pull level and progressively committed more bodies into Everton’s defensive third.
Ward-Prowse, as good a striker of a dead ball as you’re likely to see, whipped in a devilish free-kick from the left which needed all of Pickford’s concentration and reactions to repel.
The sides were both in the centre of the ring and swinging now. McCarthy saved low from Idrissa Gana Gueye and pouched Richarlison’s follow up. Walcott blazed over from distance and back came Southampton, desperately trying to snaffle a point. Everton, though, rode out five minutes of stoppage time to claim the lot for themselves.
Silva was keen to stress a significant point when he made Richarlison his first signing as Everton boss.
He is “one more”, was Silva’s message. The Brazilian was brought to Goodison Park to add depth and quality to Everton’s attack. This was not a case of hanging chief responsibility for creating and scoring on the 21-year-old’s shoulders.
Richarlison would be up for the challenge on initial evidence, mind, his two goals at Wolverhampton Wanderers followed by a tremendous headed finish on his Goodison Park debut.
In the wake of Richarlison’s double seven days ago, Silva talked enthusiastically about the player's thrilling contribution, of course. But he returned to the subject of the collective.
Theo Walcott, Cenk Tosun and Gylfi Sigurdsson, he insisted, would all take their turns to furnish Everton’s offensive work with its sheen.
Walcott worked like a trojan at Molineux, bolting up and down the right like a man possessed. It isn’t the sort of effort which attracts headlines.
This week, though, the 29-year-old can expect to see his name up in lights.
Walcott’s goal represented an individual bonanza of movement, intelligence and confidence. And no little skill.
His cross for Richarlison to double Everton’s lead was begging to be buried beyond Alex McCarthy.
Mention for Sigurdsson, too. His campaign suffered a false-start last week, with the Icelander the man replaced following Phil Jagielka’s sending off.
Sigurdsson was eager to make up for lost time, here then. Within five minutes he was firing a free-kick onto the head of Michael Keane – then chasing back to thwart Southampton’s subsequent counter.
Sigurdsson had employed his clever footwork and strength to win that set-piece. He did exactly the same 10 minutes later to outfox the frustrated Wesley Hoedt, laying the groundwork for the fabulous free-kick routine which followed.
Tosun, too, is more than the penalty-box predator imagined when he joined from Besiktas. The Turk’s hold-up play was immaculate and he took a fair old kicking for his efforts.
His warm ovation when he was replaced by Dominic Calvert-Lewin with 15 minutes remaining was richly deserved.
Seamus Coleman captained Everton on the occasion of his 200th Premier League start for the Club.
It was a scenario he would surely not have dared imagine when he crossed the Irish Sea the best part of a decade ago, a shy novice, hoping but perhaps not expecting to forge a Premier League football career.
His achievement then is remarkable. In an era of footballers routinely swapping clubs, Coleman has made his life in England at Goodison Park.
He has visibly grown as a footballer and a character.
Summon an image of Coleman in your mind’s eye and you see the Irishman galloping down the right flank.
It is a tribute to Coleman’s defensive nous that his quality in that department goes pretty much unsaid, these days. His positioning at the back post with this game only three minutes old, right on Charlie Austin’s toes, prevented the hulking Southampton striker from achieving any sort of leverage as he jumped for a cross from the right. Indeed, it was Coleman’s forehead which connected with the ball first, depriving Austin of his meat and drink.
The Southampton striker hungrily feeds off service into the box and would have been anticipating starting his afternoon on a productive note.
Coleman had set the tone for his own afternoon. He won his tackles and raided forward with ambition and intent. With nine minutes to play and the game in the balance, he was the Everton player furthest upfield, chipping in a cross from the right byline. Blink and you’d have missed his recovery run.
It is often said captains lead by either deed or force of personality. Coleman does both. He is vocal and respected. And he more than holds up his own end of the bargain.
Little wonder his name repeatedly echoed around Goodison on a day when Everton gave their supporters an awful lot to shout about.
Silva’s Kids Are Alright
Age, insists Marco Silva, does not enter his thinking when he jots down his final XI on a Saturday morning.
Mason Holgate, still only 21 and with 34 Premier League appearances under his belt got the nod to replace the suspended Phil Jagielka.
And just as he did when unexpectedly pitched into battle against Wolves last week, the young Yorkshireman turned in a towering performance.
Sporting his sharp new haircut, Holgate’s football was equally cool. He is authoritative in the air, quick across the ground and blessed with an innate understanding of where to position himself to snuff out danger.
Holgate is an organiser, too, when a generation of young footballers are perceived to be reserved on the field.
When the unfortunate Morgan Schneiderlin had to be replaced on 25 minutes, Silva called for 20-year-old Tom Davies.
The midfielder played 43 matches for Everton last term but missed out at Wolves last week. Stepping into the heat of a typically harum-scarum Premier League contest, he got to grips with his challenge at once.
This was a mature performance from Davies, anchoring in the middle of the park with Idrissa Gana Gueye and providing reliable protection for his battery of forwards.
His use of the ball was extremely good, too. Davies is clearly embracing the competition for spots in Everton's engine room. He would not have wanted his opportunity to come at the expense of a stricken colleague but was conscious he had to seize it nonetheless.
Man of the Match: Gylfi Sigurdsson
The Icelander swept the board when the time came to dish out the honours for the day's standout performer.
Sigurdsson, as we discussed above, had his afternoon cut short last week. No chance of him being replaced seven days later.
Sigurdsson's display epitomised the bravery Marco Silva demands from his teams. He was on the end of any number of rough tackles but kept demanding the ball in congested areas, fully aware he was inviting another rap around the ankles.
When he evaded his opponents to create time and space, Sigurdsson's distribution was immaculate. His second-half pass to split two defenders and find Cenk Tosun sprinting down the left was eye-of-the-needle stuff.
He makes it look easy, too. The same goes for his set-pieces, which Sigurdsson consistently dropped on the heads of teammates in scoring positions.
We heard plenty about his workrate when he became the Club's record signing on moving from Swansea City, fresh from covering more ground than any other Premier League player to help the Welsh team avoid the drop in 2016/17. From the moment he chased back to stop a Southampton break early on, Sigurdsson did not stop.