Ancelotti slams ‘joke’ red card as Southampton end Everton’s unbeaten start

LONDON (AFP) – Everton coach Carlo Ancelotti slammed referee Kevin Friend’s “joke” decision to send off Lucas Digne as the Premier League leaders’ unbeaten start to the season ended in a 2-0 defeat against Southampton early yesterday.

Everton had gone eight games without defeat in all competitions this term, but they paid the price for a lethargic display at St Mary’s.

Ancelotti’s side fell behind to James Ward-Prowse’s first-half goal and Che Adams doubled the lead before the interval.

Toffees left-back Digne was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Kyle Walker-Peters in the second half despite his claims he tripped when he stood on the Southampton defender’s heel.

“The red card was a joke, it was not intentional, for sure it was not violent. Maybe it was a yellow,” Ancelotti said.

“It’s not right, it’s not fair. We will appeal, for sure.”

Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters runs past Everton’s Lucas Digne during the English Premier League match at the St Mary’s stadium in Southampton, England. PHOTO: AP

Without the suspended Richarlison and injured Seamus Coleman after last weekend’s stormy Merseyside derby draw with Liverpool, Everton lacked the drive and quality that had been the hallmark of their strong start to the campaign.

They remain above the champions and their local rivals on goal difference but Ancelotti admitted, “We didn’t play well, Southampton were better than us and they deserved to win…I told the players winter is coming and we will have to react.”

Southampton have only lost twice in 13 league matches and climbed within three points of first place.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was in action for the first time since his ugly tackle on Virgil van Dijk left the Liverpool defender with a serious knee injury.

Pickford had been subjected to vicious abuse on social media, but Ancelotti refused to take the error-prone keeper out of the spotlight and, in fairness, the England international had no chance when Ward-Prowse put Southampton ahead in the 27th minute by firing into the far corner for his first goal of the season.

Adams doubled Southampton’s lead eight minutes later when, after a rampaging run and fine cross by strike partner Danny Ings, his deflected shot beat Pickford.

Everton’s last hope vanished in the 72nd minute when Digne was dismissed for his awkward foul on Walker-Peters.