Everton ended its worst home run since 1958 by beating Southampton 1-0 in the English Premier League on Monday and keeping its Champions League dream on track.
Richarlison scored for the third consecutive match inside the first 10 minutes, and Everton held on to move within two points of fourth-placed West Ham with a match in hand.
But the pain for Saints continued with one draw and eight defeats in their last nine league matches, leaving them seven points above the bottom three and wondering where their next win will come from.
Saints would have thought they had a chance against Everton considering their host’s poor home form three successive defeats but their only real opportunity fell to Moussa Djenepo in the final 10 minutes, and he blazed wide when well placed. It was an escape for Everton, which faded after having a second goal ruled out for offside midway through the first half.
Richarlison’s angled finish in the ninth minute was only his fifth in the league but, since the start of last season, Joao Pedro (30) and Paris St Germain’s Neymar (19) are the only Brazilians to score more goals in the top five European leagues than him.
Playing in a two up front with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has 13 league goals, Richarlison took his chance brilliantly.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, in the side for James Rodriguez who was left out as a precaution with a minor injury, capitalized on the space given to him by Mohammed Salisu going down in an aerial challenge with Calvert-Lewin and teammate James Ward-Prowse.
The Iceland forward slid through a pass for Richarlison, who was making the same centre-to-right diagonal run that saw him score at Anfield last time out, to round Fraser Forster.
It was the first time since December 2019 he has scored in three successive league matches.
Michael Keane had a header ruled out by VAR for offside as Southampton’s intention on holding a perilously high line at free-kicks caused it more than a few problems but, strangely, rather than be emboldened, the hosts became more reticent and it could have cost them.