Rafael Benitez made a winning start as Everton manager by rallying from a goal down to defeat Southampton in front of a raucous Goodison Park crowd. The former Liverpool manager received a warm welcome before kick-off as Goodison Park welcomed back spectators for the first time since December 2020, setting the tone for a positive start.
Michael Keane gave Saints debutant Adam Armstrong, who arrived from Blackburn earlier this week, an opener when he latched on to Che Adams’ ball and curled into the top corner.
Everton struggled for the remainder of the half, but Benitez’s decision to start Richarlison up front paid dividends shortly after the break when he poked home a header from debutant Andros Townsend.
Benitez’s team, who were without the isolated James Rodriguez, then enraged their supporters by scoring two goals in five minutes.
Abdoulaye Doucoure first spun in the penalty area before slamming the ball into the top corner.
Richarlison, fresh off an Olympic gold medal with Brazil at Tokyo 2020, crossed for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score with a diving header at the near post, proving Benitez’s tactical adjustment was a masterstroke. Demarai Gray made a strong debut, never stopping sprinting and providing plenty of ammunition for the Everton strikers.
Source: BBC Sport