Everton recovered from their FA Cup horror show to beat Manchester City 2-0 at Goodison Park as the champions look set to relinquish the Premier League title to rivals Man United.
Roberto Mancini’s men are now 12 points behind their neighbours, who have a game in hand, with just nine matches to play.
And David Moyes will be delighted by his side’s response following their 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Wigan as they move, for the time being, into fifth place, who coped well after having Steven Pienaar sent off after 60 minutes.
The Toffees could have been ahead after just 12 minutes but Kevin Mirallas was adjudged to have been offside, while at the other end Edin Dzeko saw a strike saved by Jan Mucha.
It was a feisty affair on Merseyside and five players were booked in the first half including Pienaar.
But after 32 minutes Leon Osman opened the scoring when Sheamus Coleman’s pass, after some fancy footwork, found him 30-yards out and, slicing through the ball, he bent the ball into the top left corner leaving Joe Hart flat-footed.
Carlos Tevez went close to equalising seven minutes later but his drilled shot went just past the upright.
On the hour-mark Pienaar received his marching orders when he raked his studs down Javi Garcia’s shin following a mistimed attempt at intercepting a pass.
Then came the onslaught as Mucha proved himself an excellent deputy to Tim Howard. The Slovakian shot stopper produced to fine saves from Tevez and James Milner.
When Pablo Zabaleta unleashed a fearsome strike 12 minutes from time, Mucha pulled out another save to keep David Moyes’ side ahead.
But, in added time, Everton launched a counter attack and Nikica Jelavic, who has been profligate of late, saw his shot deflect off Gael Clichy’s leg, over Joe Hart, and into the back of the net to make it 2-0.