Everton failed to arrest their poor run of form at home as they once again let a lead slip, with Sadio Mane’s goal earning a 1-1 Premier League draw for Southampton at Goodison Park.
Roberto Martinez needed a victory to relieve some of the pressure that has been building on him following a winless run for Everton that now stands at six top-flight games.
The hosts failed to stamp any authority on proceedings throughout, though, with Southampton twice hitting the woodwork and dominating possession.
Everton were given a lifeline when Ramiro Funes Mori capitalised on slack defending from Ryan Bertrand to thump a drilled effort home from close range, but their lead was short-lived as Mane latched onto a loose ball to nudge in with just under 15 minutes remaining.
It was no more than Ronald Koeman’s side deserved and they would have taken the lead in the closing stages if not for a fine save by Joel Robles to deny Jay Rodriguez.
Southampton continued to press as the game wore on, with Everton restricted to little more than counter-attacks, but the hosts – who have won just four league games at Goodison this term – held firm to secure a share of the spoils.
Ahead of the upcoming Merseyside derby and the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United, Martinez made six changes, with Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley, who netted the goals in Everton’s 3-0 victory in the reverse fixture and had started every Premier League game this term, among those dropping out.
Everton started brightly and almost took the lead when Gerard Deulofeu teed up Kevin Mirallas, but the Belgian’s goal-bound strike was blocked on the line by Jose Fonte, while Dusan Tadic went close with a hooked volley at the other end.
However, just moments after making another timely block to once again deny Mirallas, Fonte’s afternoon came to a premature end when he was taken off with a head injury.
But that setback did not shake Southampton as the visitors came on strong towards the end of the half – Shane Long clipping the woodwork with a glancing header before Virgil van Dijk directed a close-range effort over the crossbar.
The visitors came out strong after the interval and were unlucky not to move ahead when Tadic rattled the woodwork with a deflected strike.
Matters were made more difficult for Everton soon after when Seamus Coleman pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury and was replaced by debutant Callum Connolly.
Everton finally managed to get an effort on target just before the hour mark, but Mirallas’ free-kick was easy for Fraser Forster.
But for all Southampton’s pressure, it was Everton who broke the deadlock as Funes Mori, at the second attempt, bundled home with a powerful effort after the visitors failed to clear from a 68th-minute corner.
However, Everton’s soft underbelly was exposed once more when Mane stole in to tap home from six yards out.
Boosted by that deserved equaliser, Southampton continued to apply the pressure, but – despite Rodriguez testing Robles with a stinging effort – the points were shared.
Key Opta Stats:
– Ramiro Funes Mori has scored four times in the Premier League this season. The only defender with more goals is Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann (5).
– Everton have scored nine goals from corners in the Premier League this season, behind only Tottenham and Palace (10).
– Southampton have gone eight league games without a clean sheet, after a run of six consecutively.
– Sadio Mane scored in just his second game in his last 23 Premier League appearances for Southampton.
– Mane’s last five goals in all competitions for Southampton have been scored against Merseyside clubs (four v Liverpool, one v Everton).