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Marco Silva hits out at Richarlison diving claims after Everton's win at Southampton

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There is no doubting the quality. The lethal finish that won the match for Everton showcased the skills that make Richarlison, on his day, one of the most dangerous players in the Premier League.

The Brazilian is quick, skilful and a good finisher – as his fifth goal of the season showed at Southampton.

But the 22-year-old is still dogged by the accusations of being a ‘diver’ that follow him around – and in fact started when he first arrived in this country at Watford. 

So when Everton drew at home to Tottenham last week and the Brazilian was fouled in the area, his penalty claims were waved away.

It infuriates Toffees manager Marco Silva, who brought Richarlison to Watford and then to Everton and who insists that the youngster is innocent of the charges.

The pair hugged after his superb 75th minute winner at St Mary’s, and Silva said: “It annoys me because it is not true and not fair to Richarlison.

“I don’t see anybody calling other players divers. Maybe because they played for different clubs and there is fear in saying what they think.

“With Richarlison being an Everton player maybe it is easier to say it. But I am here to protect my players until the end.

“We are working with Richarlison to be stronger. But he is not a diver. He is a worker, a big, big talent. He has had zero yellow cards in two seasons and a half. Zero yellow cards for diving.”

As for the hug: “I know we are important for Richarlison. He came to the Premier League when he was 20. A young boy who spoke no English. 

“Everton made a big effort to sign him. He is doing well and our fans love him. It’s good to see him scoring and good to see him recognise that we are important for him as well.”

In truth, Everton should have wrapped the game up against a sorry Southampton, whose lack of confidence seeped out of every pore, long before Richarlison’s strike. But it was a beauty.

Alex Iwobi freed Djibril Sidibe, who raced down the right and swung in a superb cross – and Richarlison, coming in at the far post, buried it first time.

Everton, without an away win since March before Saturday and with Silva under increasing pressure, had started superbly, when Tom Davies – a non-stop warrior who was their stand out player  – thumped home a far post header.

And they should have had more, as Cenk Tosun headed over and Davies missed another chance.

Saints rallied as the even-more-under pressure Ralph Hasenhuttl threw on Sofiane Boufal and the Moroccan made an instant impact, his run setting up Danny Ings for the equaliser.

Everton could have crumbled, but Gyfli Sigurdsson drove them on, denied only by a brilliant save from Alex McCarthy, and then along came Richarlison.

For Southampton, the 9-0 humiliation they suffered at the hands of Leicester just two weeks ago still hurts Saints fans. 

And at the end of another defeat, their first at St Mary’s since that horrible night, and their sixth in their last seven games, some supporters threw the complimentary red and white scarves that had been draped over the seats back at the players.

Saints were booed off at half time and at the end, but it is understood that the board are still backing under pressure manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. 

His team face Arsenal after the international break, but then have potentially winnable games against fellow strugglers Watford, Norwich, Newcastle, West Ham and Aston Villa.

Midfielder Oriol Romeu denied that the Leicester debacle was still on their minds: “Not in my head. At half time we were very positive. 

“We came out with a lot of energy. We were saying ‘we’re going to come back’ and at 1-1 we were saying ‘it’s our game.’

“The fans are free to express their emotions. The last game at home didn’t help. That defeat is still in their heads. We need to change the mentality and get them behind us.”

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