Everton improved their bid to earn a top-four finish in the English Premier League as Richarlison sealed a 1-0 win against struggling Southampton on Monday.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti’s side won for the first time in six home league games thanks to Richarlison’s early goal.
Everton’s last success at Goodison Park had come against Arsenal just before Christmas, but ending a run of three consecutive home league defeats lifted them to within two points of fourth-placed West Ham United.
The seventh-placed Toffees have a game in hand on West Ham, as well as Liverpool and Chelsea, who occupy the places directly above them.
Fresh from beating Liverpool 2-0 to secure their first victory over their Merseyside rivals at Anfield since 1999, Everton are firmly in contention to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
“It’s been a very good week. I really appreciate the teamwork. We were focused defensively and good combinations in front. The performance was good and we deserved to win,” Ancelotti said.
“To fight for European places we need to improve the home run. This performance can help us. It will be a dream to be in the top four at the end of the season. We are quite close,” he said.
After leading the top flight in November last year, Southampton have gone into a dramatic decline that leaves them just seven points above the relegation zone.
“Thirty points are not enough to stay in the league. We need points,” Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said. “In the final third there was a lack of punch. That makes it difficult to win.”
With Brazilian midfielder Allan making his first appearance since December after a hamstring injury, Everton were far more tenacious.
Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster returned for just his second league appearance this season after Hasenhuttl dropped Alex McCarthy, but Forster was soon picking the ball out of the net as Richarlison gave Everton the lead in the ninth minute.
Jordan Pickford’s long-kick was flicked on by Dominic Calvert-Lewin to Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison raced onto the midfielder’s deft pass, rounded Forster and slotted into the empty net.
Michael Keane thought he had doubled Everton’s advantage in the 25th minute, but the defender’s header was disallowed after Mason Holgate was caught offside as he provided the assist.
Keane was a constant threat in the air and the England centreback headed just wide from Sigurdsson’s free-kick.
Rising to meet James Ward-Prowse’s corner with a thumping header, Southampton’s Mohammed Salisu went close to equalizing against the run of play.
That triggered a late spell of Southampton pressure and Moussa Djenepo fired just wide before Jannik Vestergaard’s close-range effort forced a superb save from Pickford.
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