Belfast Telegraph

Koeman salutes his super sub Valencia as Everton stun Southampton

Everton 3 - Southampton 0

By Carl Markham

On-loan striker Enner Valencia may yet have a significant part to play in the remainder of Everton's season after choosing the new year to provide a reminder of his qualities.

The Blues' home game with Southampton appeared to be drifting towards a dreary goalless draw until the Ecuador ace's introduction just past the hour.

He scored the opening goal against the Saints, won a penalty for the second and was bright throughout in the 3-0 win, all the goals coming in the final 17 minutes.

Valencia arrived on loan from West Ham on the final day of the summer transfer window but it was the reopening of it two days ago - with Ronald Koeman looking to considerably strengthen his squad over the next month - which sparked his best performance and a first goal after making just 12 appearances, most as a substitute.

"He can play a lot of different attacking positions and give the manager a lot of possibilities to change systems," said Koeman.

"It is too early to make a final decision about his future but it was a good signing for us.

"We waited for an hour and I think at that stage we needed something different up front.

"He was one of the players who changed the game, scored the first goal and created difficulties for Southampton."

Koeman had preferred 19-year-old Dominic Calvert-Lewin to support Romelu Lukaku, scorer of Everton's third after the Belgium star allowed Leighton Baines to score the second from the penalty spot, in attack.

The experiment lasted just 12 minutes before the teenager's first start for the club was cut short by injury which later saw him leave Goodison Park on crutches with his left ankle in a protective boot.

"We had to make a decision whether to bring in the boy and make Enner wait," added Koeman. "I wasn't happy with the support we gave to Rom from the midfield in the last few weeks so that was the reason we started Dominic behind Romelu.

"We need to wait until tomorrow (for the injury assessment). We are disappointed but he is young and he will come back."

Koeman also backed Baines as Everton's number one penalty-taker after the full-back initially appeared to be ready to hand over duties to Lukaku when the striker asked for the ball.

"Leighton is a good penalty-taker. All his life he has scored penalties," said the Dutchman.

"Everybody likes to help Romelu to be top scorer in the Premier League but it was 1-0 and Leighton is first on the list.

"If it is 2-0 in the last minute I can understand letting Lukaku take the penalty but it was still an important time."

Southampton's third straight defeat made for a miserable festive period for boss Claude Puel.

"It is difficult to accept this. Three-nil is too much to take. My players did not deserve this," said the Frenchman.

EVERTON: Robles, Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines, Gueye, Davies, Lennon (Valencia, 61 mins), Barkley (Barry, 84 mins), Calvert-Lewin (Mirallas, 12 mins), Lukaku. Unused subs: Jagielka, Cleverley, Holgate, Hewelt.

SOUTHAMPTON: Forster, Soares (Stephens, 6 mins) , Yoshida, Fonte, McQueen, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Clasie (Long, 78 mins), Tadic (Boufal, 67 mins), Rodriguez, Redmond. Unused subs: Davis, Reed, Bertrand, Lewis.

Referee: Kevin Friend

Man of the match: Seamus Coleman

Match rating: 7/10


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