Frank Lampard felt Everton’s 2-1 win at Southampton underlined their progression since his arrival in January.
Goals from Conor Coady and Dwight McNeil in the space of three minutes at the start of the second half helped the Toffees secure only their second away victory in the Premier League in 2022.
One of Lampard’s first matches in charge of Everton was a visit to St Mary’s in February, his side losing 2-0 as the former Chelsea boss was given a clear indication of the size of the task he faced at Goodison Park.
The 44-year-old would eventually guide the Merseyside outfit to safety and Saturday’s win continued their fine start to the new season, with their unbeaten run now standing at six matches.
Lampard said: “We came here and lost 2-0 in my third or fourth game I think. We were in the game and then they scored, then scored again and we didn’t really have anything about us to get back into it.
“I think this shows the progression. It is certainly not the end of the story and we need a lot more progression to get to where we need to get to, but it is a positive that we have a stronger spine about us now.”
After an uneventful first half, Joe Aribo opened the scoring for Southampton four minutes into the second period.
Everton, who had been the better side during the opening period, levelled in the 52nd minute when Coady volleyed home Amadou Onana’s header from a Demarai Gray free-kick.
It was 2-1 to the Toffees two minutes later as McNeil rifled high into the net from Alex Iwobi’s cross to help the visitors build on their 1-0 victory over West Ham a fortnight ago and improve on their poor away record.
“I am delighted for them to get the feeling of two wins because it is a feeling of confidence for the group,” Lampard said.
“We have had a couple of good draws on the road and certainly showed some digging-in spirit within the team.
“Now we go away and get a win, but you have to approach every away game in the Premier League with caution. Nowhere is easy to come and, if this helps build confidence – and I am sure it will do – then that is a great thing.”
While Southampton piled the pressure on Jordan Pickford’s goal towards the end of a third consecutive loss, they struggled to create chances.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl had made six changes from the frustrating reverse at Aston Villa two weeks ago and reverted to his previously-favoured 4-2-2-2 formation.
The Austrian was disappointed not to see his adjustments pay off and pinpointed a game-changing moment before McNeil’s winner where Che Adams was denied by James Tarkowski’s tackle, with Everton scoring their second within a matter of seconds.
Hasenhuttl said: “We are convinced about what we have done today. I think it was clear. It was also a bit of a shame and I am unhappy it did not work.
“We had immediately (after the equaliser) a good ball into Joe, then a fantastic pass into Che and a chance for the second goal.
“Premier League football is brutal when you don’t score and you concede. This is what happened today and this is what this young team has to learn, that it is not enough to invest a lot and create, create and create. In some moments you have to be decisive and we haven’t been.
“The difference between the two teams was their clinical finish in the box that we haven’t had.”