Arteta's superb free-kick unlocked Bolton after Steinsson's dismissal
The simplest of Mikel Arteta free-kicks and a late Steven Pienaar strike handed Everton a seventh successive home league win as 10-man Bolton crumbled.
Bolton's Kevin Davies came closest in an uneventful first half but Tim Howard bravely saved after a flowing move.
The game turned with the 70th-minute dismissal of Gretar Rafn Steinsson, who bundled over Yakubu as the last man.
Arteta looped the resulting free-kick home and Leon Osman hit the post before Pienaar's powerful, decisive second.
With both teams in good form, neither manager saw fit to make changes to their starting line-up, but Everton boss David Moyes soon found his hand forced.
Victor Anichebe, who carved out a fine opportunity in the opening minutes only for a superb last-ditch Paul Robinson challenge to deprive him, was clattered by Robinson moments later and fell to the ground.
The Nigerian, only recently back from a long-term knee injury and warned by Moyes to work harder in the build-up to this game, departed the field on a stretcher to be replaced by Russian Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
Anichebe took a "knock in the ribs" according to Moyes and was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Patience pays off for Everton's Moyes
Where Anichebe had at least opened up space for himself, Bilyaletdinov appeared to struggle, and Everton's initial dominance slowly faded as outlets for their build-up play dried up.
Bilyaletdinov's hastily struck, monstrously skied left-footed strike midway through the half proved symptomatic of a lack of finishing, while the Toffees' impressive early defending gave way to a worrying sloppiness which more assertive opponents might have punished.
Not that Bolton were without opportunities, despite a quiet start.
Zat Knight connected with Chung-Yong Lee's free kick but lacked the power to beat Howard from close range, before Tamir Cohen fired just over Howard's bar with a curling strike as the visitors started to venture forward.
Bolton then orchestrated the move of the half to unlock Everton's defence with a series of short, sharp passes, only for Davies' strike to be beaten away by the plunging Howard.
Everton started the second half the brighter of the teams, with Yakubu and Johnny Heitinga testing Jaaskelainen, but could feasibly have been reduced to 10 men not long into the half.
Cahill, already booked for an ugly first-half challenge, could be argued to have deliberately handled the ball as he competed with Jaaskelainen in the Bolton box, but unmoved referee Alan Wiley awarded no more than a free-kick.
Everton continued to press and, just as it began to feel as though both crowd and players were losing belief, the hosts took the lead.
'Contentious' red card cost Bolton point - Coyle
Steinsson departed for pushing Yakubu to the ground as the latter sprinted clear, and Bolton's wall proved no match for Arteta's exquisite execution of the resulting free-kick, which turned Jaaskelainen into a spectator as the ball nestled inside his unguarded right post.
That was lights out for Bolton, who were flagging even before the dismissal, and Everton spent the remainder of the game in search of more goals.
Davies' poor cross late on robbed Bolton of their only half-chance at getting back into the game, before Toffees substitute Osman somehow rattled the upright with only the prone Jaaskelainen to beat.
Osman turned architect for the goal which settled it, wending his way to the edge of the six-yard box before setting up Pienaar's unstoppable shot.
Everton manager David Moyes:
"We had the best of the play and we controlled most of the ball in the first half without being able to create in the final third.
"We needed a good Tim Howard save in the first half but we needed to be patient and we got our reward in the end.
"It was a great pass by Steven Pienaar to get Yakubu away - scoring the goal as well was a double whammy for Bolton, and it was a great free-kick.
"In the last few games, Mikel Arteta has been getting back to his best. He's nursing a couple of minor strains but he's so keen to keep going."
Bolton manager Owen Coyle:
"Yakubu took a great touch across Gretar Rafn Steinsson and invited Steinsson to come onto him. If there's a collision there's not a lot of contact, but Mr Wiley deemed it a red card.
"To rub salt into the wound, because I believe it was a contentious decision, Mikel Arteta was allowed to take the free-kick four yards closer than he should have been.
"I don't agree with the decision and with then allowing Arteta to bring the ball forward to the arc, with the quality he's got.
"We carried on the fight, accepting that Everton had chances, but I'm disappointed to leave with nothing. I felt we offered an awful lot to the game."
90:00+4:14 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
90:00+4:02 Johnny Heitinga delivers the ball, Zat Knight makes a clearance.
90:00+2:15 Matthew Taylor crosses the ball, Phil Neville gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Matthew Taylor, clearance
by Steven Pienaar.
90:00+1:02 Effort from the edge of the area by Phil Neville goes wide of the right-hand post.
90:00+0:05 Centre by Samuel Ricketts, blocked by Sylvain Distin. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Matthew Taylor from the right
by-line to the near post, clearance by Louis Saha.
88:49 Leon Osman provided the assist for the goal.
88:49 GOAL - Steven Pienaar:Everton 2 - 0 Bolton Goal scored by Steven Pienaar from inside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Everton 2-0 Bolton.
88:07 Johnny Heitinga takes a shot. Jussi Jaaskelainen makes a save. Close range shot by Leon Osman hits the post.
87:08 The ball is delivered by Mikel Arteta, Paul Robinson makes a clearance. Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by
Mikel Arteta, clearance made by Andrew O'Brien.
86:50 The referee penalises Phil Jagielka for handball. Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the free kick.
84:48 Unfair challenge on Andrew O'Brien by Louis Saha results in a free kick. Paul Robinson takes the direct free kick.
84:04 Louis Saha produces a drilled right-footed shot from 25 yards. Save made by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
82:47 Substitution Mark Davies comes on in place of Tamir Cohen.
82:47 Mikel Arteta crosses the ball, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov goes harmlessly over
82:12 Unfair challenge on Phil Jagielka by Kevin Davies results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Phil Jagielka.
81:39 Leon Osman produces a cross, free kick awarded for a foul by Louis Saha on Andrew O'Brien. Jussi Jaaskelainen restarts play
with the free kick.
80:09 Substitution Jack Wilshere leaves the field to be replaced by Matthew Taylor.
79:32 Steven Pienaar crosses the ball, save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
77:54 Foul by Johnny Heitinga on Kevin Davies, free kick awarded. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Jack Wilshere from right
wing, save by Tim Howard.
76:20 Centre by Leighton Baines, clearance by Zat Knight. Mikel Arteta takes the outswinging corner, Zat Knight manages to make
74:54 Substitution Leon Osman on for Ayegbeni Yakubu.
74:54 Phil Neville gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kevin Davies. The ball is sent over by Paul Robinson, Header
from close range by Zat Knight clears the bar.
73:38 Jack Wilshere fouled by Mikel Arteta, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
73:16 Diniyar Bilyaletdinov sends in a cross, Zat Knight manages to make a clearance.
71:50 GOAL - Mikel Arteta:Everton 1 - 0 Bolton Free kick scored by Mikel Arteta from outside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Everton 1-0 Bolton.
69:51 Substitution (Bolton) makes a substitution, with Samuel Ricketts coming on for Johan Elmander.
69:51 Sent off Gretar Rafn Steinsson sent off.
69:49 Free kick awarded for a foul by Gretar Rafn Steinsson on Ayegbeni Yakubu.
68:53 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kevin Davies by Johnny Heitinga. Free kick crossed left-footed by Jack Wilshere,
clearance by Phil Neville.
67:58 Unfair challenge on Phil Neville by Jack Wilshere results in a free kick. Mikel Arteta delivers the ball, Phil Jagielka takes
a shot. Jussi Jaaskelainen makes a save.
67:14 A cross is delivered by Ayegbeni Yakubu.
65:46 Kevin Davies takes a shot. Blocked by Sylvain Distin.
64:46 Mikel Arteta fouled by Gretar Rafn Steinsson, the ref awards a free kick. Sylvain Distin takes the direct free kick.
63:15 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jack Wilshere on Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. Tim Howard restarts play with the free kick.
62:43 Chung-Yong Lee crosses the ball, clearance by Sylvain Distin.
61:53 Substitution Louis Saha joins the action as a substitute, replacing Tim Cahill.
61:29 Ayegbeni Yakubu sends in a cross, Zat Knight manages to make a clearance.
59:56 Diniyar Bilyaletdinov gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere. Free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
59:32 Mikel Arteta sends in a cross.
57:27 Leighton Baines decides to take the corner short.
54:31 The ball is delivered by Phil Jagielka. Tim Cahill is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Direct free kick taken
by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
53:30 The ball is sent over by Phil Neville, clearance made by Andrew O'Brien.
53:00 Shot from 25 yards by Johnny Heitinga. Comfortable save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
51:30 The ball is delivered by Phil Neville, clearance by Andrew O'Brien. Steven Pienaar produces a volleyed left-footed shot from
12 yards. Gretar Rafn Steinsson gets a block in. Ayegbeni Yakubu takes a shot. Comfortable save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
50:55 Kevin Davies concedes a free kick for a foul on Leighton Baines. Free kick taken by Sylvain Distin.
48:03 Shot from just outside the box by Ayegbeni Yakubu misses to the right of the goal.
47:46 Free kick awarded for a foul by Tamir Cohen on Tim Cahill. Direct free kick taken by Tim Howard.
47:23 The ball is delivered by Chung-Yong Lee.
45:01 The second half has started.
45:00+5:04 The match has reached half-time.
45:00+3:07 Leighton Baines takes a shot. Blocked by Andrew O'Brien.
45:00+2:47 Zat Knight challenges Mikel Arteta unfairly and gives away a free kick. Mikel Arteta takes the direct free kick.
45:00+1:30 Centre by Leighton Baines, clearance by Andrew O'Brien.
45:00+1:10 Ayegbeni Yakubu produces a cross, Andrew O'Brien makes a clearance.
45:00+0:50 A cross is delivered by Leighton Baines, blocked by Gretar Rafn Steinsson.
44:41 Tim Cahill fouled by Paul Robinson, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Tim Cahill, save
made by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
39:34 Direct free kick taken by Sylvain Distin.
39:34 Booking The referee books Chung-Yong Lee for unsporting behaviour.
39:32 Chung-Yong Lee gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sylvain Distin.
38:41 Kevin Davies takes a shot. Save by Tim Howard.
37:59 Free kick awarded for a foul by Andrew O'Brien on Phil Jagielka. Direct free kick taken by Phil Jagielka.
37:33 Ayegbeni Yakubu gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Zat Knight. Free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
35:53 Kevin Davies sends in a cross, Tim Cahill makes a clearance. Effort on goal by Tamir Cohen from inside the penalty area goes
harmlessly over the bar.
34:45 Centre by Leighton Baines, save made by Jussi Jaaskelainen. Corner taken short by Leighton Baines, Mikel Arteta takes a shot.
Tamir Cohen gets a block in.
31:28 Steven Pienaar produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty area that goes harmlessly over the target.
29:10 Mikel Arteta delivers the ball, Zat Knight manages to make a clearance. Phil Jagielka takes a shot. Fabrice Muamba gets a
26:57 Foul by Fabrice Muamba on Johnny Heitinga, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Phil Jagielka.
25:09 Phil Neville concedes a free kick for a foul on Johan Elmander. Strike on goal comes in from Kevin Davies from the free kick,
Tim Howard makes a save.
24:54 The official flags Johan Elmander offside. Indirect free kick taken by Johnny Heitinga.
24:03 Shot from inside the area by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov clears the bar.
23:54 The ball is sent over by Phil Neville, clearance by Paul Robinson.
22:23 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Tim Cahill by Kevin Davies. Phil Jagielka restarts play with the free kick.
21:54 The ball is crossed by Ayegbeni Yakubu.
21:10 Steven Pienaar crosses the ball, clearance by Andrew O'Brien.
20:01 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ayegbeni Yakubu by Zat Knight. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from
Mikel Arteta, blocked by Tamir Cohen.
19:26 Free kick awarded for a foul by Fabrice Muamba on Ayegbeni Yakubu. Tim Howard takes the direct free kick.
18:25 The free kick is delivered left-footed by Paul Robinson from left channel, Phil Jagielka makes a clearance. Inswinging corner
taken left-footed by Jack Wilshere, Sylvain Distin manages to make a clearance.
18:25 Booking Tim Cahill is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
18:21 Free kick awarded for a foul by Tim Cahill on Jack Wilshere.
17:12 Johan Elmander concedes a free kick for a foul on Mikel Arteta. Sylvain Distin takes the free kick.
15:41 Phil Neville sends in a cross, clearance made by Zat Knight. Corner taken left-footed by Leighton Baines from the right by-line,
clearance made by Chung-Yong Lee.
10:50 Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the direct free kick.
10:50 Substitution Victor Anichebe leaves the field to be replaced by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
10:50 The ball is delivered by Leighton Baines, Paul Robinson makes a clearance. Corner crossed in by Leighton Baines, Tamir Cohen
makes a clearance. Handball decision goes against Steven Pienaar.
10:10 Paul Robinson concedes a free kick for a foul on Victor Anichebe. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Mikel Arteta
from right wing, Johan Elmander manages to make a clearance.
9:02 Johnny Heitinga challenges Jack Wilshere unfairly and gives away a free kick. Chung-Yong Lee produces a cross, Zat Knight
takes a shot. Tim Howard makes a save.
7:14 The ball is swung over by Leighton Baines, Andrew O'Brien makes a clearance.
6:15 Gretar Rafn Steinsson delivers the ball, Sylvain Distin manages to make a clearance.
5:26 Sylvain Distin delivers the ball, Andrew O'Brien makes a clearance.
3:07 A cross is delivered by Mikel Arteta.
2:04 Foul by Johnny Heitinga on Johan Elmander, free kick awarded. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Gretar Rafn Steinsson.
1:04 Mikel Arteta produces a cross, save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
0:44 A cross is delivered by Phil Neville, Zat Knight manages to make a clearance.
0:00 The match has kicked off.
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