Everton secured what could prove a priceless victory in their battle to avoid relegation as lacklustre Manchester United were beaten at Goodison Park.
Frank Lampard’s side were plunged into even deeper crisis when they lost at fellow strugglers Burnley in midweek to leave them facing the prospect of dropping into the bottom three this weekend if results went against them.
In a game low on quality but high in tension, Everton’s victory came courtesy of Anthony Gordon’s 27th-minute drive, which took a heavy deflection off United captain Harry Maguire to leave keeper David de Gea wrong-footed.
Everton keeper Jordan Pickford made two important early saves from Marcus Rashford and a vital late block from Cristiano Ronaldo, but there was rarely any sense of siege as United lacked urgency, failing to break through in another blow to their hopes of making the Premier League’s top four.
This could be a huge result in Everton’s season, stopping the rot and lifting some of those dark clouds that were starting to gather over Goodison.
Everton’s win was as far from a classic as it is possible to be but in the wider context it could mean more than so many others this season.