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Strong Southampton hands Everton first loss

The Saints ruined Everton's perfect record, taking down the league leaders at St. Mary's behind goals from James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams.

Southampton - Everton: Danny Ings set up goals for James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams as Southampton beat up subpar Everton 2-0 at St. Mary’s on Sunday.

The Toffees lost for the first time this season and also finished with 10 men after Lucas Digne was sent off for a foul on Kyle Walker-Peters in the 72nd minute.

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Everton maintains its place atop the Premier League table by goal difference over Merseyside rivals Liverpool, while Saints rise fifth, between Leeds and Crystal Palace, on 10 points.

Southampton - Everton saw surprises galore as Saints delivered a decisive first half and few chances to their favored visitors.

Three things we learned from Southampton - Everton

1. Ings the set-up star: Perhaps inspired by England teammate Harry Kane’s early season playmaking, Danny Ings’ pair of first-half assists were high quality. One of the better finishers in the Premier League worked a 1-2 with Ward-Prowse on the opener before sending a terrific cross to the back post for Adams.

2. Inevitable letdown from Everton? This is not to say that Everton cannot or will not compete for glory this season, but might it be expected given the combination of a not-100 percent James Rodriguez and the emotions involved in a 2-2 derby draw that showed the Toffees have a bit of work to do to meet Liverpool’s level. In any event, there was no way to Alex McCarthy as an either uninspired or “off-it” Everton failed to stay unbeaten.

3. Saints lock down the middle, Richarlison missed: There was no way through the Southampton center, where Jannik Vestergaard led a good CB pairing with Jan Bednarek and all-action Oriol Romeu fit perfectly with Ward-Prowse. Tight work on the flanks kept crosses from being sent but the few that were delivered were kept from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who was less effective without Richarlison to his left.

Man of the Match

It’s Ings but we’ve spoken of him so let’s also give a shout to Ward-Prowse. A goal and 92 percent passing joined three tackles on the score sheet.

Southampton - Everton recap

Michael Keane headed an early and dangerous Southampton free kick out for a corner as the hosts started bright.

Alex Iwobi swept a pass into the feet of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, whose bid to dig it out dribbled wide of the near post in the 10th minute.

The danger was back for Saints in the 12th, Ryan Bertrand’s pass to Nathan Redmond turned toward the near post. It bounded wide as Che Adams’ lunge to tap it home was inches shy of the ball.

Southampton spent plenty of time in Everton’s half and Jordan Pickford made a nice save on a hard hit deflected shot by Oriol Romeu before Ward-Prowse nabbed the opener.

The Saints star worked a stylish 1-2 with Danny Ings and beat Pickford before celebrating with a golf swing celebration.

It was 2-0 when Ings hit a cross so sweet (and unmarked) that two teammates could’ve scored it. Adams did.

Stuart Armstrong hit a pure strike home for 3-0 but Adams was offside in the build-up.

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Kyle Walker-Peters gave away a dangerous free kick on the corner of the 18 when he leapt hands-high into a cross. Lucas Digne opted to pass the ball into the mixer and it was blocked.

Anthony Gordon entered the match and almost immediately produced with an incisive pass to Bernard that turned into goal mouth danger.

Digne was sent off when he raised his arms in the air while chasing Walker-Peters but laid his foot down on the back of the fullback’s foot.