Everton have picked up under Frank Lampard, no doubt, but successive victories continue to elude the manager after his side conceded twice after half-time to lose at Southampton.
There was an increasingly familiar rapid start at St Mary's Stadium from the Lampard’s side, who twice claimed for penalties in the game’s opening four minutes.
Richarlison had a half chance soon after kick-off, too. But Everton couldn’t convert their initial pressure into anything of substance. Across the 90 minutes, they had eight shots but were unable to test Fraser Forster, the Southampton goalkeeper, with any of them.
The home team drew encouragement from holding Everton at bay during a busy opening and Southampton had a firm foothold in the contest by the break.
Stuart Armstrong’s precise finish from around 20 yards, seven minutes after the restart – following a turnover of possession in Everton territory- gave the home team a measure of control.
Southampton passed up a handful of chances – a mixture of their own profligacy and sound goalkeeping from Jordan Pickford keeping the score at 1-0 – before Shane Long headed home Tino Livramento’s 84th-minute cross, 60 seconds after the striker was sent on as a substitute.
For the opening 10 minutes, this was all about the pace and hunger and intent of Everton – save for a Southampton breakaway when Pickford smothered at the feet of Armando Broja.
Pickford made his stop on six minutes and, by then, Everton had presented decent arguments for two penalties.
Anthony Gordon did the legwork on two minutes, picking up speed to latch onto a return pass from Richarlison – the Brazilian knocked off his feet as he laid off the ball – and progressing into the box.
Gordon was about six yards out when he tumbled and replays detected an arm in the back from Livramento.
The contact wasn’t sufficient for referee Andy Madley and VAR Andre Marriner briskly concurred.
Marriner had barely resettled than he was called on, once more.
And he took longer over his task in the fourth minute, inspecting various angles to determine if Oriol Romeu should be punished for allowing the ball to strike his right hand from a Seamus Coleman cross.
Ultimately, the verdict was no different, Everton pleas falling on deaf ears.
The visitors would have been raging, then, had Southampton got the decision when Kyle Walker-Peters’ cross thudded into the arm of Mason Holgate midway through the opening half.
That one went the way of the defensive team, too – although using the term ‘defensive’ to refer to Everton at this stage felt wrong.
Lampard’s team began the game like a bullet fired from a rifle.
Donny van de Beek and Allan combined to usher in Coleman, who strong-armed his way past the hesitant Mohammed Salisu to square for Richarlison.
Try as he might, the Brazilian couldn’t get the ball under his spell and the chance was gone.
Salisu had a generous handful of Richarlison’s shirt to concede a free-kick on the right of the box after seven minutes, but the flat delivery from Gordon was smuggled clear.
Walker-Peters, playing left-back for Southampton, was at the vanguard of the hosts’ emergence as an attacking proposition.
The defender was tripped by Allan, who went into the book for stopping a dribble out of defence on the quarter hour.
Allan’s rage at a perceived injustice gave way to trepidation two minutes later when Armstrong went over the Everton midfielder’s leg 25 yards from goal.
Madley never looked like producing the second yellow Allan feared. So concern turned immediately to the sight of James Ward-Prowse standing over a dead ball.
A Ward-Prowse free-kick in these parts is an event in itself. There is a ceremonial feel as the midfielder’s name rolls ominously around St Mary’s – it reminds of Evertonians baying for ‘Sheedy’ when their side had a set-piece in shooting range – and a handclap gathers pace in advance of Ward-Prowse’s strike.
Pickford was equal to this one, leaping right to tip behind a dipping shot, directed across the goalkeeper.
Walker-Peters profited from a fortunate deflection – the ball ricocheting back in his path off Coleman – to skip into the penalty area and fizz a shot wide of the near post six minutes before half-time.
Pickford was able to stand and watch that effort safely enough. Not long before, however, the England player employed his instincts and reflexes to resist an early dive, waiting for right-back Livramento to connect with a Ward-Prowse corner inside the six-yard box before somehow pawing the ball to safety.
The watchful Pickford tipped over smartly from Jan Bednarek, who was offside when he headed on target.
And with Southampton visibly growing in confidence and energy, Broja sprung onto a Romeu ball over the top. The chest control was good but gave Coleman the time to sprint across and take the sting off a shot that dribbled into Pickford’s gloves.
Romeu foiled Allan and Richarlison in quick succession close to the penalty area soon before half-time. For Allan, it was the final meaningful involvement of the day.
Probably keen to lower the player from his disciplinary tightrope, Lampard removed Allan and sent on Andre Gomes for a second half that began with Dominic Calvert-Lewin turning the ball into the net, only for a correct offside flag to curb celebrations that never had a chance to get going.
Southampton gained their advantage off the back of harrying Everton in the away team’s defensive third.
Van de Beek, Holgate and Coleman rotated possession but when the ball arrived with Gomes it was burgled, enabling the hosts to spring forwards.
Romeu passed to Che Adams in a central position and the striker maintained the ball’s direction of travel, going right to Armstrong.
The Scotsman’s strike with the side of his right foot dipped fractionally before beating Pickford inside the keeper’s near post.
Gomes thrashed wide from distance as Everton sought an instant response.
But the home team, buoyed by their goal, scented blood.
In order, Adams volleyed into Pickford’s midriff following Ward-Prowse’s cute lofted ball over the top, Armstrong curled a first-time 20 yarder onto the roof of the net, and Broja escaped round the back to meet a Ward-Prowse free-kick and head against the bar.
Lampard withdrew Alex Iwobi and Gordon, introducing Andros Townsend and Dele Alli on minutes 65 and 75, respectively.
Those changes sandwiched a shot from Walker-Peters that required Pickford to stay alert following a deflection off Holgate.
And Walker-Peters was at it again on 78 minutes, cutting inside to draw a stop from Pickford at the foot of his near post.
Broja flashed an attempt across the face of goal after being played in on the left by Walker-Peters.
And with six minutes remaining, Southampton’s concerted pressure paid off.
The delivery this time came from the right, the advancing Livramento found by Armstrong.
Livramento stood his cross to the far post where Long – only just arrived in place of Broja – guided a header into the far corner.