Australia midfielder Tim Cahill kept Everton firmly on course for a top six finish in the Premier League as his header set up a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Cahill’s eighth goal of the season came late in the first half at Goodison Park and Louis Saha sealed the points with a sublime second after the break.
The win moved David Moyes’ side nine points clear of seventh placed Wigan, who were due to face Chelsea later on Saturday, and left Albion firmly rooted to the bottom of the table.
Tony Mowbray’s team are now without a win in their last eight games and look destined for a quick return to the Championship.
With Mikel Arteta, Victor Anichebe and Jack Rodwell all injured, Moyes was happy to welcome back Cahill from suspension and Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini from injury.
Everton had the first opportunity when Leighton Baines’ long ball was met by Cahill, who beat Scott Carson to the ball, but also cleared the bar.
Albion’s Marc-Antoine Fortune had two shots well held by Everton keeper Tim Howard before Robert Koren flashed a powerful strike wide of a post for the visitors.
Cahill had the ball in the net with a volley in the 24th minute but referee Steve Bennett correctly penalised the midfielder for climbing on Paul Robinson.
Everton’s Tony Hibbert, just back from injury, limped off with a thigh problem moments later.
Albion midfielder James Morrison set up Fortune for another opportunity with a neat pass but the striker’s effort was blocked by Howard.
Moyes’ side took full advantage in the 36th minute. Ryan Donk gave away a needless free-kick with a foul from behind on Pienaar.
Baines curled a free-kick into the area and Albion’s defence went missing, allowing Cahill yards of space to head past Carson.
Albion, who last won a league game at Goodison Park in 1979, made a positive start to the second half despite that setback.
Koren ran from his own half to fire just wide of the post from the edge of the box, then Luke Moore, on as a substitute, had a shot deflected wide.
From the corner Albion thought they had scored. Donk headed on and Moore’s flick was somehow hooked off the line and into Howard’s arms by Phil Jagielka.
Moyes’ response was to take off Fellaini and send on Saha.
The move paid instant dividends. In the 70th minute Pienaar nudged a pass to Saha, who turned and rifled a perfectly placed long-range drive past Carson.
Moore hit the bar in the closing minutes but Albion were soon trudging off after their 11th away league defeat this season.
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