Jack Gaughan of the Mail had some kind words for Phil Jagielka.
He writes: “What Everton were protecting was the scrappiest of goals, scored by their captain who led heroically at the back alongside a nervous Stones.
“The Merseyside relief was palpable, Jagielka aggressively punching the air after reacting quickest from Leighton Baines’ corner. Koeman will quiz his defenders as to why nobody in the heavily-populated six-yard box was able to stop Gareth Barry’s centre from the second ball, but Jagielka appeared to want it more, steering home his sixth of the season.
“That has secured Everton’s status as a Premier League side again – if ever it was in doubt, even to the most pessimistic supporter – and Martinez spoke of learning their lessons from a campaign of toil that had promised so much when Lukaku arrived for £28million last summer.”
Chris Bascombe of the Telegraph, meanwhile, felt the game was a low-key affair.
“The low-key mood was unsurprising,” he writes. “Premier League positions mean extra prize money, but there is already an end of season feeling at Goodison Park. For Everton it is a case of trying to give meaning to the ultimately meaningless.
“Martinez has suggested there are those playing for their futures. Arouna Kone, restored due an injury to Romelu Lukaku, may come into that category but it applied to few others in the starting line-up. Certainly goalscorer Jagielka has little to worry about.”
The Mirror’s David Maddock felt the Blues were fortunate to take all three points.
He says: “They have taken most of the campaign to do it, but the Blues have finally found the confidence and belief of last year to push themselves towards mid-table respectability, with what is only their fourth win in the Premier League in 2015.
“How they managed it though, will still baffle Southampton long after the final whistle, given the visitors dominated possession, territory and chances in this game, but came away with nothing for their efforts.
“Ronald Koeman’s side were as compact as ever, and as neat as ever going forward, but they couldn’t defeat an impressive Tim Howard in the first half when they repeatedly opened Everton up, and then failed to get beyond an improved Blues defence as the game became much tighter after the break.”
Andy Hunter, once of this parish but now at the Guardian, said it was a ‘un-Martinez’ performance.
Hunter writes: “The difference here was a finishing touch. Phil Jagielka had one, indeed the England international’s performance had everything that Roberto Martínez’s team required from a captain, and Southampton did not. They took the game to Everton throughout and Tim Howard had to be in fine form to nullify a threat that evaporated after half-time, although the home side’s work-rate, tenacity and defensive organisation impressed.
“Aaron Lennon, Ross Barkley and, particularly, Jagielka, pitted against Italy international Graziano Pellè for the second time in five days, typified a committed display that gave Everton a third consecutive Premier League win for the first time this season.
“This was a most un-Martínez-like win from Everton, who resembled the away team at times with their willingness to sit back, absorb pressure and hit Southampton on the counter-attack. Not that Goodison had many complaints with Romelu Lukaku sidelined by a hamstring injury, Darron Gibson facing a spell on the sidelines with a broken metatarsal and safety now beckoning.”