Everton 1 Southampton 1: Richarlison rescues Toffees after in-form Ings bags Saints opener in Goodison stalemate

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WHO says Ings ain’t what they used to be? This one most definitely is.

Better than he’s ever been, in fact. And even if Gareth Southgate can’t actually see a game in person right now, you can be sure he knows all about him.

Such has been Danny Ings’ ill fortune with injuries over the years that his solitary England cap has been a fleeting appearance against Lithuania five years ago.

But when Southgate next gets to name an international squad in a couple of months, few will have more pressing claims for a call than the Southampton striker.

Since moving to the south coast, and finally putting five years of treatment table torture at Liverpool behind him, Ings has been a man reborn.

And yesterday he made sure that not all his Merseyside memories are bad ones, with a one-man assault on the Everton defence that really deserved so much more.

As it was Southampton had to be content with a point, but Ings’ performance alone merited all three of them.

No prizes, then, for guessing who bagged the Saints’ goal. Mind you, that’s been something of a recurring theme all season.

He took his tally to 19, leaving only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Jamie Vardy – boosted by penalties, don’t forget – ahead of him in the Prem scoring charts.

On another day he might well have woken up this morning even closer to the top, too, given the number of last-gasp occasions he was denied.

What a difference to the man who went to Liverpool in 2015 with huge hopes, but was crocked in Jurgen Klopp’s first training session and again the following season.

It meant he made only six league starts in five years at Anfield, and ultimately led to his move to Southampton. Talk about making up for lost time.

At Goodison – a ground where one of his three league goals for Liverpool came in a Merseyside derby – he showed once more there are few more predatory strikers around.

It was actually a goal which would have had any watching TV booking agents rushing to get his number for the next series of Strictly Come Dancing, such was his footwork.

Stuart Armstrong’s 30th minute shot was woefully mis-hit, but Ings never gave it up. He knows from bitter experience that causes are never lost ones.

With his right foot he killed the ball dead, and jinked back across the plunging Jordan Pickford. With his left, he swept it into an empty net.

Wayne Sleep eat your heart out.

In all honesty that lead was no more than Southampton deserved. By rights, Ings should actually have been doubling it – at least.

Keeper Pickford had denied Jack Ward-Prowse with one save for the cameras, and another majestic – if also slice of luck one – against you know who.

That came when Ings flicked in a header that Pickford’s fingers pushed against the bar and was then fortunate in pushing the rebound away with his trailing hand.

The woodwork had again shown it wore a blue scarf when Ward-Prowse tumbled over Andre Gomes’ trailing leg, then picked himself up to smash the penalty against the bar.

What a difference this Southampton side are now to the one whacked for nine on their own patch by Leicester in late October.

What a dominant performance they put in here at Goodison, too.

And what an out-of-the-blue shock it was when Everton somehow poached the unlikeliest and undeserved of equalisers just before the break.

To be fair, Lucas Digne’s crossfield exocet to pick out Richarlison, peeling off Jan Bednarek, was laser guided.

And the Brazilian striker did superbly to first control an awkwardly bouncing ball and then bullet instinctively past Alex McCarthy.

But merited? Not a bit of it. The banner draped in the Gwladys Street seats with the words Carlo Fantastico, should be swapped for one reading Ancelucky.

The Toffees’ Italian manager definitely enjoyed a fair slice of it in seeing his side leave with a draw from this.

In the long-term scheme of things, it is actually a result that little for either club’s hold-on-by-the-fingernails dream of a European finish.

Ings, though, may very well be there…heading for pastures far and wide in an England squad once more.

Footballing feelgood stories don’t come much better than his.

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