Everton missed yet another opportunity to gain any momentum during the final weeks of Premier League and imploded with two own-goals that led to a 2-0 loss to Southampton on Saturday at St. Mary’s.
The Toffees followed up their 3-2 loss to Crystal Palace with a dominating 2-0 victory over Manchester United that forced the firing of David Moyes, but couldn’t capitalize on their latest chance to overtake Arsenal on the table and wrap a stranglehold on a Champions League spot.
Southampton snapped a three-match winless streak, but are still five points back of United in eighth place on the table.
Unfortunately for defenders Antolin Alcaraz and Seamus Coleman, much of the blame may fall at their feet.
Within the first minute of play, Southampton quickly launched an attack with Rickie Lambert rounding the left side of Everton’s goal and launching his shot only to see Alcaraz’s attempt at a clearance head the ball into the net.
Then in the 31 st minute Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne lofted a cross to Sam Gallagher, but Alcaraz and John Stones missed their attempts to clear it away and Coleman couldn’t see the ball before he headed it in for the second own-goal of the day.
Other than the two defensive miscues, at halftime the two sides were fairly even with Southampton registering two shots on goal to Everton’s one, while the Toffees notched three corner kicks to two and held a 54-46 possession advantage.
Everton midfielder Gareth Barry expressed his and likely the rest of the squad’s frustrations with a rough foul in the 45 th minute on Gallagher that would earn him a yellow card.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez attempted to spark his attack by sitting Ross Barkley in favor of Leon Osman at the start of the second half, but Osman did little other than a booking in the 62 nd minute for a dive.
The Toffees next host Manchester City and then travel to face Hull City in the campaign finale, but will likely need one more Arsenal loss or draw to stay in UCL contention.
A seventh-place finish is still very much in Southampton’s purview, but they’ll need to drop Swansea City and United in the final two matches of the term.