Jordan Pickford - 7.0
The England #1 wasn’t at his Three Lions best, and did muff a couple of catches but nothing serious. There was little he could do about the Saints goal, he was caught dead by Keane’s miskick and Holgate’s missed tackle, and Adam Armstrong’s finish was top bins.
Seamus Coleman - 6.8
While we appreciate his passion as the Everton captain, his shortcomings were laid bare by Moussa Djenepo and company who ran at him time and again, and beating him just about every time too. The Blues were lucky to not concede another goal from the openings he left on the right side.
Mason Holgate - 5.7
Holgate didn’t necessarily have a bad game, but wasn’t good either. Was harassed by Armstrong and Che Adams all game long, and always looked uncomfortable any time the ball was near him.
Michael Keane - 4.6
Looked to have turned a corner last season and was even in the reckoning for a European Championship squad berth in the summer, but this was him at his worst. Unsure and unsteady on the ball, was caught in possession when he had all the time to get rid of it. Did bounce back and was strong in the air for most of the game, but the damage was done.
Lucas Digne - 6.7
It’s no coincidence that as soon as he started bombing forward on the wing the Blues got immediately more threatening. Tidy defensively, provided an outlet in the second half as Gray started running at defenders on his side. His setpiece delivery was not upto the usual standard we’ve become used to.
Abdoulaye Doucoure - 8.5
The midfielder is a machine. Doesn’t stop running, makes himself available creating overloads when attacking, and is quick to charge back when opponents are on the counter. His goal was a top drawer effort and more along the lines of what we had seen at Watford FC before he joined the Toffees. Deserved the Man of the Match gong but Richarlison nipped in ahead of him.
Allan - 6.7
Solid and unspectacular, as usual. Had an early crack at goal that would have been incredible if he’d scored. In his role shielding the defence, you know he’s had a good game when you don’t hear his name mentioned often.
Andros Townsend - 7.3
What a difference it makes to this side’s attack when you have competent wingers on both sides! Townsend led the team with three key passes and two crosses, both beauties that went fizzing into the box, begging for a touch to bulge the net. Looked excellent value for the free transfer he was.
Demarai Gray - 7.3
Another new piece in the puzzle who made an instant impact. The Blues have been crying out for a player that can run at the opposition with pace and trickery, and Gray delivered. He was put in the #10 role and drifted about creating overlaps and finding players in good positions all game long.
Richarlison - 8.7
Playing his 60th game since the season opener at Tottenham last season on September 13th with no breaks in between, he showed no signs of fatigue as he took on the Saints from the first minute until the 89th when he went off to a rousing ovation. His goal was a result of his tenacity, chasing every ball played his way and making sure he fought for it too. Who knew he was capable of playing the cross he did for DCL’s goal though - quick, dipping ball into the box and all his strike partner had to do was get a touch on it, which he duly did.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 7.6
Dom was mostly quiet in this game except for when he had to make his presence felt. Shorn of Jannik Vestergaard, you would have thought the Saints defence would have given DCL more room to operate but they did a pretty good job staying on him most of the game. The striker was half a second late to an early Richy cross that zipped through the box, but he stretched himself out a la Andy Gray to ensure he would score Everton’s third that sealed the game.
Alex Iwobi - 7.0
Often a target of flak from the fanbase, Iwobi was lively after his introduction late on. His quick header from a bang-bang play allowed Doucoure to find the space to score the winner, and Iwobi pulling his man away gave Richarlison the room to find DCL with the cross for the third.
Yerry Mina - N/R
Late sub came on to shore up the defence.
Anthony Gordon - N/R
Gordon didn’t have much to do with just a couple of minutes left to play.
Benitez leaves as he arrived, to warm applause pic.twitter.com/CW3ZXMFo5n— Carl Markham (@carlmarkham) August 14, 2021
Rafa Benitez: A - 47%, B - 46%, C - 5%
The reception Benitez received when he was introduced to the Goodison crowd on Saturday should have warmed his heart - there was no feeling of resentment or anything else that marred social media in the lead up to the season opener. The veteran manager was humble in his post-match comments, commending the players and the supporters for the comeback win even though it was his tactical tweaks that swung the game in the Blues’ favour in the second half.
Has Rafa somehow managed to insert a spine in this Everton squad that has been found wanting of spirit and willingness on so many occasions? We’ll see.