GOALS from James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams meant superb Saints were the first Premier League team to beat Everton this season, with a 2-0 success.

The St Mary’s side were highly impressive, striking twice in the opening half to ensure they had picked up 10 points from their past four games.

Victory took Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men up to fifth in the league table.

The hosts made one enforced change from the starting XI that secured a 3-3 draw at Chelsea last time out.

With loan star Theo Walcott unable to feature against his parent club, in came Stuart Armstrong.

The Scotland international was back in contention for Saints after completing his self-isolation period after testing positive for COVID-19.

After some mind games over whether former Real Madrid star James Rodriguez would be fit to feature for the visitors – he did line up for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who were unbeaten in the division ahead of kick-off.

Seamus Coleman and Richarlison were out through injury and suspension, respectively. Andre Gomes dropped to the bench.

In came Ben Godfrey, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alex Iwobi for the Merseysiders.

The first real opening of the contest came the way of the visitors on 10 minutes.

After Colombian Rodriguez’s cross eventually fell to Iwobi at the back post – the former Arsenal man’s drilled ball across goal was blocked to safety by Jan Bednarek.

Saints then spurned their first opportunity which fell the way of Nathan Redmond. After Danny Ings drove at the Toffees’ backline, he found Bertrand on the left flank.

The full-back’s low centre was perfect for Redmond, who scuffed wide of the far post when unmarked inside the box.

Everton playmaker Rodriguez had his first sight of goal after 16 minutes. The former Bayern Munich star saw his free-kick well gathered by Alex McCarthy in the Saints goal after Bertrand had felled Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

The Toffees came within inches of breaking the deadlock shortly after. A sweeping ball out to the left found Sigurdsson, who was allowed to cut inside onto his right foot.

The Icelandic international rattled the crossbar with a fierce effort which had McCarthy rooted to the spot.

At the other end, Oriol Romeu worked Everton keeper Jordan Pickford. The Spaniard ran on to a half-cleared cross before unleashing a fierce drive the stopper was able to parry away.

Saints were to draw first blood soon after however, with the opener coming on 27 minutes.

After a throw-in on the right, Ings played a delightful through ball to his England team-mate Ward-Prowse, to fire into the net across Pickford.

And the Everton keeper was again left with no chance as the hosts doubled their lead seven minutes later.

Ings was again the architect as he skipped down the left and crossed to the back post. Adams took a touch before his deflected effort went through Pickford for 2-0.

Saints then thought they had a third when Adams squared for Armstrong to smash home on the counter – only for the former to be flagged offside after the ball hit the net.

Everton boss Ancelotti swapped Iwobi with Bernard at the break as he looked to change his side’s fortunes.

But it was Saints who continued to push forward. Bertrand went to ground under the challenge of Godfrey inside the box – referee Kevin Friend waved away his calls for a penalty.

Brazilian Bernard did however show his threat for the Toffees as some resolute defending from Saints kept their two-goal cushion intact on the hour mark.

The diminutive winger turned away from Romeu inside the box before pulling back for Rodriguez – only to be denied by a last-ditch challenge.

Saints could have killed off the contest when Redmond found Armstrong on the left side of the area – the former Norwich man’s powerful cross narrowly evaded the onrushing Ings.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors with just under 20 minutes remaining, as they were reduced to 10 men.

Lucas Digne caught the Achilles of Kyle Walker-Peters, a challenge which referee Friend deemed reckless and sent off the defender.

Pickford was then at full stretch to deny Jannik Vestergaard, who headed at goal from a corner.

But it was not to matter as Saints made the extra man count to complete victory with ease.

Youngster Dan N’Lundulu was also given his Premier league debut late on.

Saints: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Bertrand, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Armstrong (Diallo, 86), Ings, Adams (N’Lundulu, 89).

Unused subs: Stephens, Tella, Vokins, Long, Forster (g/k).

Booked: Walker-Peters.

Everton: Pickford, Godfrey, Mina, Keane, Digne, Doucoure (Delph, 58), Allan, Sigurdsson (Gordon, 58), Rodriguez, Calvert-Lewin, Iwobi (Bernard, h-t).

Unused subs: Nkounkou, Gomes, Davies, Olsen (g/k).

Booked: Bernard, Calvert-Lewin.

Sent off: Digne.

Referee: Kevin Friend.

VAR: Simon Hooper.