Seamus Coleman says it was a “big honour” to captain Everton against Southampton – and paid tribute to the “brilliant” forward quartet who spearheaded a vibrant attacking display.
Richarlison scored his third goal in two matches for Everton – the first player to achieve that feat in 15 years – when he powered home a header on 31 minutes.
The Blues already led at that stage after Theo Walcott applied a clinical finish to an intricately-worked 15th-minute free-kick routine.
Everton had a host of opportunities to extend their advantage, with Michael Keane and Idrissa Gana Gueye testing Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy either side of half-time.
Walcott had chances to add to his own tally, not least when he fired narrowly off target after being set up by the outstanding Gylfi Sigurdsson shortly after seeing a goal ruled out for offside.
Danny Ings scored for Southampton eight minutes after the break to leave the game hanging in the balance right until full-time.
“I have my own standards, with or without the armband, but it is a big honour to captain this Club at any level and I am very proud to do it in the Premier League,” said Coleman.
“We wanted to start at home as we mean to go on. The fans were looking forward to the new regime, a new manager and new players, and we needed to put on a show, which I thought we did.
“And more importantly, we got the three points.
“The attacking players linked up brilliantly at times. They were great and very lively in front of goal.”
“We are really enjoying having Richarlison in the team for the attacking quality he provides but also for his work ethic.
"But it was not just him. I thought Theo was great, Cenk held the ball up brilliantly and Gylfi always puts in a great shift. They all did really well.”
Everton were forced back in patches following Ings’s predatory effort. The striker found space in the box to prod in after Mario Lemina had headed on a corner from James Ward-Prowse, prompting Mark Hughes' side to push more bodies forward in search of a leveller.
Coleman was frustrated by the nature of the visitors’ goal but by the same token was thrilled to see the Blues’ training ground invention pay off on the quarter-hour mark.
Leighton Baines and Morgan Schneiderlin combined exquisitely from a free-kick to play in Walcott, the forward beating McCarthy at the keeper's near-post. And Walcott turned provider when he supplied the delivery for the onrushing Richarlison to head home Everton’s second. The last Toffees player to score three goals so quickly was Brian McBride in 2003.
“The manager is very detailed and wants to get everything right,” said Coleman. “We worked on the free-kick during the week and to see it come off on matchday is very rewarding for the coaching staff.
“He wants us pressing, winning the ball back, passing it forward and playing attacking football and I think the fans enjoyed it.
“We did not deserve to be under pressure towards the end and conceding a goal from a set piece was the disappointing thing today, so we definitely need to iron out a few things.
“But we created enough chances to have won comfortably and can be very positive about that performance and result.
“It was massively important to make sure we got the three points.”