Andrew Johnson's second-half goal gave Everton victory against struggling Sunderland and kept the Toffees in the hunt for a Champions League spot.
Johnson's scrappy goal summed up a game of little real quality
Mikel Arteta's cross glanced in off the England striker's upper arm for the only goal of a scrappy encounter.
Tim Cahill's first-half header was deflected onto a post by Anthony Stokes as the visitors had the better chances.
Tim Howard denied the Black Cats an equaliser deep into injury time with a superb save from Andy Reid's free kick.
The visitors had the first real chance after 16 minutes, but Phil Jagielka's header from a corner was gathered comfortably by goalkeeper Craig Gordon.
With first-half chances few and far between, tempers began to fray as Everton's Arteta was brought down by Phil Bardsley and Stokes tried to kick the ball out of the grasp of the prone Spaniard.
Dean Whitehead then had the Black Cats' only real chance of the half but scuffed his shot when set up invitingly on the edge of the area.
Whitehead was the centre of attention again moments later when he slid through Steven Pienaar in the middle of the park, his clumsy foul earning a yellow card.
Everton finally managed some sustained pressure as the break approached and nearly took the lead from a corner.
Cahill's header was deflected onto the woodwork by Stokes at the far post and Johnson headed over the bar in the scramble that followed.
Sunderland started the second half brighter but went behind to Johnson's goal.
Johnson and Cahill both challenged for Arteta's cross and the ball glanced in off the England striker's upper arm.
Kieran Richardson blasted wide from 15 yards shortly after to signal the beginning of a decent spell of pressure from Sunderland as they looked for an equaliser.
Jagielka protected Everton's lead by throwing himself in front of a shot by substitute Michael Chopra from 12 yards after good work by fellow replacement Reid.
Sunderland were perhaps lucky to keep all their players on the pitch when Bardsley received a yellow card for a bad foul on Pienaar.
The hosts continued to press but rarely threatened Howard's goal until deep into the four minutes of added time, when the Everton keeper leapt to his left to push away Reid's curling free kick.
Sunderland manager Roy Keane:
"The goal came off Johnson's arm but I think it would have been very harsh of the referee to disallow it.
"We have the benefit of replays but at the time we didn't think for a minute that it had struck his arm.
"But you deal with setbacks. We have had our fair share, whether it be disappointing results, heavy defeats or decisions we feel went against us."
Everton manager David Moyes:
"We got back late on Friday, travelled here yesterday and it can have its effects.
"We keep getting told you don't win games when you're coming back from Europe, but I think that's a couple of times we've done it now.
"The players showed great character and came away with three valuable points."
Sunderland: Gordon, Bardsley, Evans, Nosworthy, Collins, Richardson, Leadbitter (Prica 75), Whitehead, Stokes (Chopra 46), Murphy (Reid 67), Jones.
Subs Not Used: Fulop, McShane.
Booked: Whitehead, Bardsley.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Yobo, Lescott, Arteta, Neville, Cahill (Rodwell 87), Pienaar (Baines 81), Johnson, Yakubu (Anichebe 87).
Subs Not Used: Turner, Gravesen.
Goals: Johnson 55.
Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).
BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Everton's Andrew Johnson 7.30 (on 90 minutes).
Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.