Mauricio Pochettino’s reign as Southampton manager began with a 0-0 draw in an encouraging display at home to Everton.
The Toffees were thankful to keep the first half goalless, as the hosts dominated play and created a number of chances, particularly through Rickie Lambert. The second period was more even, with the away side perhaps having the best of the play, but neither could take advantage, and Everton's American goalkeeper Tim Howard made four saves to record his second straight clean sheet.
Speculation surrounded the home fans’ reaction to new manager Pochettino after his recent appointment but there was a good reception for the Argentine, who showed his appreciation in return. The home side started brightly and could have taken the lead in the fourth minute as a cross from the right was deflected by Phil Jagielka and nearly found his own net.
Jason Puncheon then had a good chance just a couple of minutes later, but he dragged his shot just wide of Howard’s goal. The Saints finished off a solid passing sequence as Gaston Ramirez almost caught Howard out with a deflected early shot from long-range that the American parried for a corner.
It took until the 20th minute for either side to create another chance, and it came for the home side thanks to Lambert, whose long-range free kick struck the outside of the post. Lambert created another chance for himself six minutes later, as he took advantage of some slack defending and forced a good save from Howard after jinking into space.
Everton began the second half in a positive frame of mind, with Marouane Fellaini seeing a close-range shot and then a header saved well by Artur Boruc. The Toffees forged a superb opportunity in the 61st minute, as a superb ball from Leighton Baines found substitute Victor Anichebe, whose square pass hit Nikica Jelavic’s heel in the penalty area.
Anichebe then had a great chance of his own, as after taking a good touch in the penalty area he saw his shot palmed brilliantly away by the impressive Boruc, who made five saves in keeping Everton off the board.
Despite not creating as much as it did in the first half, the home side very nearly scored a crucial goal in the 83rd minute, as a Lambert header went just over at the back post.
Everton pulled within three points of fourth-place Tottenham with the draw, which was the club's second straight 0-0 affair. Southampton pulled a point ahead of Newcastle and into 15th place to get the Pochettino era underway.
- Sports & Recreation