New Southampton boss Mario Pochettino began his Saints career in an impressive fashion with a goalless draw at home to Everton.
Emotions were expected to run high at St. Mary’s after the unexpected dismissal of former boss Nigel Adkins, but the home crowd rallied around their team and greeted the Argentinian manager with rapturous applause before kick-off.
Pochettino named a familiar-looking Saints side which was hoping to continue their run of good form, which had seen them lose only two of their last twelve matches.
Everton, however, were hoping to overcome the disappointment of last weekend’s home draw to Swansea, a result which had dented their hopes of Champions League qualification.
The former Espanyol boss watched as his south-coast side consistently outplayed a disappointing Everton team for long periods of the match.
Southampton enjoyed much of the first half action, with star striker Rickie Lambert going closest as his free-kick bounced off the upright with Everton keeper, Tim Howard, left stranded.
Everton rarely threatened despite the antics of Marouane Felliani, who was never far from the action, gaining his side several dubious free-kicks, much to the home team’s protests.
The Liverpudlian side started the second half much the better than the first, and the introduction of the speedy Victor Anichebe on 58 minutes began to cause problems for Saints keeper, Artur Boruc.
But this left Southampton dangerous on the counter-attack, with Lambert once again going closest, this time with a powerful header which fell on the roof of the Everton net.
The game, however, ended goalless. On balance, this was probably a fair result given Saints first-half dominance and Everton’s resurgence in the second.
A worry for Porchettino will be the forced withdrawal of star summer-signing Gaston Ramirez on 71 minutes, as he makes plans to take his fifteenth-placed side to Old Trafford next Wednesday.
David Moyes’ Everton will now travel to Bolton in the FA Cup next weekend, hoping to put their second successive goalless draw behind them.
Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Shaw, Puncheon (De Ridder 87), Cork, Schneiderlin, Ramirez (Steven Davis 71), Lambert, Do Prado (Rodriguez 62).
Subs Not Used: Kelvin Davis, Fox, Richardson, Chaplow.
Everton: Howard, Coleman (Anichebe 58), Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Naismith, Neville, Osman, Pienaar, Jelavic (Mirallas 66), Fellaini.
Subs Not Used: Mucha, Heitinga, Oviedo, Hitzlsperger, Duffy.
Main image: momomama2013, Flickr