Jack Cork praised the invaluable contribution of Saints’ striking pair of Rickie Lambert and Sam Gallagher in their 2-0 win over Everton.
Sam Gallagher slotted into the starting line-up for the first time since the visit of Arsenal in late January and Cork believed his return in the absence of the injured Jay Rodriguez was seamless.
The midfielder also reserved special praise for the more experienced Rickie Lambert, highlighting his more technical side that Cork felt was on display in full force against the Merseysiders.
“He showed that he can vary what he does,” Cork said of Lambert when speaking to Saints Player. “People look at him as a number-nine on people’s shoulders and winning headers. Today he dropped deep and showed what he can do on the ball.
“People look at him and say he’s physical and wins headers and that he can bring it down and score goals. He can also take a touch, play through-balls and he’s very clever on the ball. People don’t see enough of that and I think he showed that today.
“It’s always difficult to come into the team, especially when you’re a young lad but he (Gallagher) played like he had no pressure on him.
“It’s sort of what we’ve been missing in the last couple of weeks with Jay [Rodriguez] being gone. Jay gave us so much hard work, running and pressure in behind. Sam filled that void for us today and did really well.
“Everyone knows what Sam’s qualities are and everyone knows what Rickie’s qualities are. We had a five-minute chat before their game. We know what their best qualities are and how to play with them. It clicked from the start, luckily for us.”
The 24-year-old believed Saints’ midfield trio of himself, Victor Wanyama and Steven Davis provided an early indicator of how the encounter would develop with reassuring starts, while paying tribute to those around them in Mauricio Pochettino’s eleven.
Cork maintained that Southampton were more than good value for their victory and believes Everton’s misfortune with own goals was cancelled out by luckily avoiding penalties through handballs.
The number 18 continued: “We thoroughly got we deserved and it was a great performance against a top-five team.
“We were unlucky not to get two penalties as well. Maybe some might say they were unlucky with the two own-goals, so hopefully it sort of evens itself out in the end. We put in a good performance with a lot of hard work in. No-one can say we didn’t deserve it because we did really work hard today.
“You can sort of tell how it’s going to pan out because Victor was winning all of his battles, was great on the ball and ‘Davo’ just wasn’t losing it and they couldn’t get near him.
“Our two attacking players, our defenders, and the goalkeeper were brilliant. It was a great team performance.”