Benitez begins Everton reign with comeback win over Southampton

Mohammed Salisu of Southampton and Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton battle for possession during the Premier League match between Everton and Southampton at Goodison Park on August 14, 2021 in Liverpool, England.

Rafael Benitez got off to the perfect start as Everton manager, with his team coming from behind to beat Southampton in front of an ecstatic Goodison Park.

As Goodison welcomed back fans for the first time since December 2020, the former Liverpool boss received a warm reception before kick-off which led to a positive start.

But the fervent atmosphere soon turned when Michael Keane gifted an opener for Saints debutant Adam Armstrong, who joined from Blackburn earlier this week, as he latched on to Che Adams' ball to curl into the top corner.

Everton struggled for the rest of the first half, but Benitez's decision to put Richarlison up front paid off immediately after the break as he poked home from debutant Andros Townsend's header. IMG-20210814-195404-627

Benitez's side, who were without the isolating James Rodriguez, then sent their fans delirious with two goals in the space of five minutes.

First, Abdoulaye Doucoure turned in the penalty box before smashing into the top corner.

And Benitez's tactical switch proved a masterstroke as Richarlison, fresh from an Olympic gold medal with Brazil at Tokyo 2020, crossed for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score with a diving header at the near post. IMG-20210814-200652-988

There was also a fine debut for Demarai Gray, who never stopped running and provided plenty of ammunition for the Everton strikers.

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