Danny Ings scored his 19th league goal of the sea­son to stay in the hunt for the Golden Boot award.

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Chris Bas­combe

The life of a mid-ta­ble team is like be­ing on a ham­ster wheel spin­ning be­tween de­spair and hope. Ever­ton and Southamp­ton know this bet­ter than other Premier League clubs.

They were for­lornly look­ing over their shoul­der wor­ry­ing about those near the bot­tom for half a seaThere son. They went into this meet­ing dar­ingly stretch­ing their necks to eye the Europa League places. Ever­ton’s chances of that were greater, but an en­ter­tain­ing draw surely means those as­pi­ra­tions are on hold for an­other year.

“We lost two points. Now we have more dif­fi­cul­ties, but we must keep fight­ing un­til the end,” Carlo Ancelotti said. “We have to still be­lieve we have a chance.”

The Ital­ian has swiftly ac­quainted him­self with the Ever­ton loop where shoots of recovery are wa­tered af­ter pos­i­tive re­sults, only for the prophets of doom to de­mand a root-and-branch squad clear out af­ter a poor per­for­mance.

This has been the Good­i­son way for a few years, al­though Ancelotti’s pres­ence alone of­fers be­lief Ever­ton will break free from their cy­cle of in­con­sis­tency. The truth is the Ital­ian worked won­ders to make Euro­pean qual­i­fi­ca­tion part of the con­ver­sa­tion at this point of the sea­son. Frankly, it would have been mirac­u­lous if Ever­ton made the Europa League given they were in the bot­tom three in De­cem­ber.

Even that trans­for­ma­tion pales in com­par­i­son to Ralph Hasen­huttl’s achieve­ment in lead­ing Southamp­ton to se­cu­rity. No mood swing has been more ex­treme this sea­son than at St Mary’s. Southamp­ton were in the bot­tom three af­ter 10 games, hav­ing suf­fered a hu­mil­i­at­ing 9-0 home de­feat by Le­ices­ter, which would have had most chair­man head-hunt­ing a new coach be­fore in­jury time. So it was en­tirely in keep­ing with these clubs’ predica­ment that there was as much to frus­trate as ad­mire as they shared the points. For 42 min­utes, Ancelotti must have been re­lieved there was no crowd. Ever­ton could not string a pass to­gether, Southamp­ton were dom­i­nant, un­lucky to be only a goal up.

Danny Ings, who struck his 19th of the sea­son on 31 min­utes, had al­ready seen Jor­dan Pick­ford shove his header against the cross­bar. James Ward-Prowse hit the wood­work with an overzeal­ous penalty

kick. Even­tu­ally, a scuffed shot by Stu­art Arm­strong dropped to Ings, who steered the ball into the net while Ever­ton de­fend­ers wrongly pre­sumed Var would save them with a ret­ro­spec­tive off­side.

Ancelotti had al­ready de­cided to make a for­ma­tion change when Richarli­son equalised from nowhere, con­trol­ling Lu­cas Digne’s long di­ag­o­nal and slam­ming past Alex Mc­Carthy af­ter 43 min­utes.

That may have sparked a sec­ond­half im­prove­ment ir­re­spec­tive of Ancelotti ditch­ing his favoured 4-4-2 to send on an ex­tra de­fender. Ei­ther way, Ever­ton looked more balanced. Sud­denly it was Hasen­huttl mak­ing the tac­ti­cal tweaks.

Ancelotti knew Ever­ton could af­ford no more mis­takes to re­alise the Euro­pean am­bi­tion within six months of his ar­rival. Pri­vately, he might ad­mit they are not ready. It might not be the gravest set­back if they nar­rowly miss out, the de­mands of the Europa League can be de­bil­i­tat­ing with a thin squad.

Southamp­ton ap­pear to have as strong a foun­da­tion to mount a top­seven chal­lenge next sea­son. Given where they were, that makes Hasen­huttl one of the coaches of the sea­son. “There is a bit of frus­tra­tion be­cause we played a good game,” he said. “The whole per­for­mance was good. We were dom­i­nant. But we know where we are com­ing [from]. The last time we played Ever­ton we were in po­si­tion 19. The devel­op­ment as a team and club is amaz­ing.”

Poacher: Danny Ings (third from left) gives Southamp­ton the lead at Good­i­son Park with his 19th goal of the sea­son

Costly: Carlo Ancelotti ad­mit­ted the re­sult was two points dropped for Ever­ton

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