Wasted opportunities define Everton and their relationship with the Carabao Cup. This theme continued on Tuesday night as the latest chapter in this troubled marriage saw the home side lose 4-3 to Southampton on penalties after the two sides finished level at 1-1 after 90 minutes.
A disjointed Everton team showing seven changes to the starting XI lost their way around the 30-minute mark and were fortunate to extend the match to penalties. Substitute Theo Walcott grabbed a late equaliser to send the tie to spot kicks but penalty misses from Richarlison and goalscorer Walcott ensured Everton once again slipped through the exit as another cup run ends no sooner than it had begun.
On a night when each of the four wingers at his disposal all played some part in the match, Everton boss Marco Silva could at least reflect on his options in wide areas. The club may be short in some positions but this is not one of them. Walcott and Richarlison are first choice, but in Ademola Lookman and Bernard, Silva has two genuinely exciting alternatives and both did their future prospects no harm on an otherwise disappointing evening.
Everton fans could be forgiven for thinking they had seen it all before after watching their team fail to advance beyond the third round of this competition for the seventh time in 11 seasons. Irrespective of who stands in the dugout, Everton remain guilty of undervaluing the League Cup, seemingly viewing it as a luxury rather than a genuine chance at silverware. This approach remains increasingly difficult to understand, especially for a team without a trophy since winning the FA Cup in 1995.
Manager rating out of 10
4 -- Silva made a total of 15 changes to his starting XI across Everton's two Carabao Cup ties this season and the lack of continuity showed in both.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Maarten Stekelenburg, 5 -- A goalkeeper of his stature and experience ought to be far more authoritative as failure to command his penalty area added further uncertainty to a defence that had enough problems of its own on the night.
DF Jonjoe Kenny, 5 -- Nervy start saw Kenny cheaply concede possession too often in the first half, while the pace and trickery of Nathan Redmond ensured a testing evening defensively.
DF Michael Keane, 5 -- Caught out with a ball over the top early on and never seemed to settle properly, ending up as one of the players culpable for the opening goal. This looked more like the Keane of last season, not the player that had mostly impressed in this campaign.
DF Kurt Zouma, 6 -- Venomous penalty in the shootout typified his no-nonsense approach as Zouma defended stoutly, though the lack of spark in midfield once again asked him to attempt to do too much when in possession.
DF Leighton Baines, 6 -- Began in sprightly fashion and linked well with Bernard on occasion while looking to push forward. But his impact started to fade once the Everton performance fell flat during the first half and beyond.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 4 -- Early promise soon faded as two significant lapses in concentration helped the visitors take control before his influence dwindled to nothing as the match progressed.
MF Tom Davies, 5 -- Davies tried but struggled to provide Everton with a foothold in midfield, though the reaction of some sections of the crowd towards the young midfielder bordered on the ridiculous on occasions.
MF Ademola Lookman, 7 -- Lookman drifted in and out of the game at times but was unfortunate not to last longer than an hour on his first start of the season. Along with Bernard, one of the few to ask questions of an underworked Southampton defence.
MF Kieran Dowell, 4 -- The harsh reality of his situation is that chances at this level are likely to be scarce and Dowell did little to convince Silva that another opportunity would be worth pursuing in the near future.
MF Bernard, 7 -- Appeared in several different midfield positions during his first start for the club but remained the most likely source of inspiration despite the continual positional changes. One particularly exquisite pass over the top of the visitors' defence created a chance for Lookman.
FW Cenk Tosun, 5 -- Good link-up play in the first half created a chance for Bernard. But that was as good as it got for Tosun, who received minimal service throughout and delayed too long when presented a rare sight of goal later in the match.
FW Oumar Niasse, 5 -- Assisted the equaliser but his endeavour amounted to little else.
MF Richarlison, 5 -- Woeful penalty miss in the shootout undid anything that went before.
MF Theo Walcott, N/R -- Dragged Everton to penalties with a fine finish in normal time only to miss a decisive spot kick in the shootout.