- POSTED: 26 Apr 2014 23:30
Everton suffered a huge blow in their quest for Champions League football after a pair of own-goals saw them lose 2-0 to Southampton at St Mary's on Saturday.
LONDON: Everton suffered a huge blow in their quest for Champions League football after a pair of own-goals saw them lose 2-0 to Southampton at St Mary's on Saturday.
The loss meant Everton remained a point behind Arsenal, who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot on offer to Premier League clubs, ahead of the Gunners' match at home to Newcastle on Monday.
But Everton manager Roberto Martinez insisted the Merseysiders, whose final two league games of the season are against title contenders Manchester City and FA Cup finalists Hull, had not given up on a Champions League place.
"Not at all, from our point of view it doesn't change at all," Martinez told BT Sport.
"We have had eight wins in 10 games, that's a phenomenal return and allows us to go into the next two games trying to get maximum points.
"Today was a real setback...but we'll be ready for next Saturday," the Spaniard added.
Everton, whose 2-0 victory over Manchester United last week led to their former manager David Moyes's sacking by the English champions, were behind as early as the first minute courtesy of a bizarre own-goal.
Antolin Alacaraz got in front of the player he was marking to somehow head a cross from Southampton's Rickie Lambert past Toffees goalkeeper Tim Howard.
And the visitors fell further behind on the south coast shortly after the half-hour mark when Seamus Coleman diverted Nathaniel Clyne's cross beyond Howard.
Victory saw the Saints remain eighth in the table.
Saturday's other English top-flight fixtures will see Ryan Giggs oversee his first match as interim player-manager of Manchester United when the seventh-placed side face Norwich, just above the relegation zone, at Old Trafford.
Elsewhere, second-bottom Fulham are at home to Hull, Stoke play Tottenham, Swansea face Aston Villa and West Brom, still not certain of top-flight survival, welcome West Ham to The Hawthorns.
The race for the Premier League title will intensify on Sunday when leaders Liverpool face second-placed Chelsea, currently five points off top spot, at Anfield.
Third-placed Manchester City, six points off the summit but with four league games remaining compared to the top two's three apiece, are away to Crystal Palace.
At the other end of the table, there is a classic relegation 'six-pointer' when bottom of the table Sunderland are at home to drop zone rivals Cardiff.