Everton kept their top-four challenge on track with a 2-1 win over West Brom at Goodison Park on Wednesday evening.
The hosts looked to be cruising to victory after Leighton Baines plundered two first-half goals, but substitute Shane Long ensured a nervy finish with his headed consolation.
Toffees boss David Moyes made just one change from his side’s victory over Bolton in the FA Cup, with winning goalscorer Johnny Heitinga handed a start as Nikica Jelavic dropped out. Baggies coach Steve Clarke, meanwhile, introduced Goran Popov, George Thorne and Jerome Thomas to the first team, with Claudio Yacob, Liam Ridgewell and wantaway striker Peter Odemwingie - who failed even to earn a place on the bench - making way.
Both sides started tentatively, with missed headers from Phil Jagielka and Romelu Lukaku the early highlights in a cagey opening 10 minutes. And matters took some time to improve, with 18 minutes having passed before Marouane Fellaini shook Ben Foster’s post with a half-volley inside the penalty area.
It would take a further 10 for another example of genuine quality, but this time it would prove more decisive.
Baines collected the ball from Leon Osman 25 yards out after one of his trademark surges up the left and, in a show of class which was far from in keeping with all that had preceded it, found the top corner beautifully from the edge of the box.
The Baggies, who had been only marginally second best despite the lack of cutting edge on show, were dealt a further blow when Thorne was forced to leave the field with injury. And matters were about to get worse when Thorne’s replacement Claudio Yacob tripped Anichebe in the box to hand a penalty to the hosts two minutes after coming on.
Baines subsequently stepped up to send Foster the wrong way to notch his second and give his side a 2-0 half-time lead, which they had earned without breaking a sweat.
The teams came out with notably more enthusiasm in the second period but this simply resulted in a scrappy midfield battle rather than added quality, meaning the Toffees looked certain of closing out an easy victory with an hour gone.
However, the introduction of Long for the ineffective James Morrison changed things significantly, as the Irishman capitalised on Heitinga’s inexplicable chip in the box to nod home with virtually his first touch.
That goal prompted a late flurry of attacking surges from both sides, with Osman’s terrible miss in the box the most notable. The ball had bounced fortunately for the one-time England international, but he did not take the invitation and rifled over from just six yards.
That was the best opportunity either side had before the end, as Moyes’ men saw the game out well to earn another important win.