Southampton added to the mounting pressure on Everton and caretaker boss David Unsworth with a convincing 4-1 win at St Mary’s on Saturday.
Goals from Dusan Tadic, Steven Davis and a brace from an impressive Charlie Austin overshadowed Gylfi Sigurdsson’s magical goal to take all three points against a very lacklustre Everton.
The first half kicked off with both sides looking less than confident in defence, with each pressing very high up the pitch.
After 15 minutes, Southampton should have been two up, with Charlie Austin having a half volley in yards of space in the box that went over the bar, and three minutes later taking a great cross from Cedric and rattling the post.
Everton also had their fair share of chances early on, with Aaron Lennon picking up a poor pass only for Kevin Mirallas’ poor conversion attempt going wide.
Mirallas also had the opportunity to score through on the defence, but a heavy touch allowed Saints goalkeeper Forster to clear.
But Dusan Tadic scored a great opener when Ryan Bertrand whipped in a low early cross for Tadic to glide the ball away from the covering Leighton Baines and into the net.
Such was the story for the first half, Southampton did not let up pressure, even though they failed to nab a much needed second before half time.
Every kick-off saw the Saints press as if it were the dying seconds of a cup final.
At one point, the Everton box had six Southampton players as targets for Cedric and Ward-Prowse to cross to.
The misery mounted even further for Everton fans, as veteran Baines pulled up with an injury and was forced off in the 25th minute for Ashley Williams on the left flank that was already struggling.
Everton Boss David Unsworth shifted the formation to a 3-5-1, but that only managed to get Everton little more than a few touches of the ball.
But as Southampton lost the ball just before half-time, Aaron Lennon set up Gylfi Sigurdsson, who had shifted more centrally having started on the wing, to produce a bit of magic, with a shot from outside the box looping over the impressive figure of Forster, rebounding off the crossbar onto the post before finally bouncing into the net.
Everton started to follow suit form previous games, stepping up their efforts in the second half.
But it was Sofiane Boufal, who was the best player on the pitch for Southampton, that gave Charlie Austin a third chance to score, which this time the centre-forward took brilliantly with a true-centre forwards header, nullifying any spirits the Everton contingent had.
Seven minutes later, Southampton fans would be forgiven for claiming Déjà vu, as Austin scored almost a direct repeat of his previous goal, with Boufal once again getting the assist from the left wing.
Everton lost all composure from then on, with keeper Jordan Pickford looking visibly angry with the defensive line in front of him, as Southampton pushed for a fourth goal that looked likely to arrive.
The only spark for Everton in the second half were the rare touches from youngster Ademola Lookman, whose introduction for Kevin Mirallas showed real promise, with the former Charlton Athletic man taking Cedric to the cleaners on the right flank, a feat highlighted considering the Portuguese’s brilliant display.
The second injury for Everton came as Michael Keane followed Leighton Baines’ blight, leaving the pitch to go straight down the tunnel as he was substituted for Nikola Vlasic to switch Everton back to a 4-4-2.
Everton’s attack will look back on this game as potentially the worst they’ve been in recent memory, with the blunt nature of their three attempts across the full 90, with Wayne Rooney somehow an unused substitute.
Steven Davis’ brilliant effort from the right of the box in the dying minutes did little to change the weight of the victory, but topped off a terrific day for the south-coast side.
The win pushes Southampton into tenth in the league, whilst Everton remain in a lowly 16th dangling precariously above the relegation zone, only two points separating them from 18th placed West Ham.