Resurgent Everton down WBA
Liverpool - Everton brushed aside West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday to prolong their excellent recent run and keep their hopes of a Europa League spot alive.
The Toffees went ahead though a wickedly-deflected 18th-minute shot from Leon Osman that was credited as an own goal to Baggies defender Gareth McAuley and sealed their win through substitute Victor Anichebe in the 68th minute.
FA Cup semi-finalists Everton have now won three straight games 2-0, having got the better of Swansea in the English Premier League and Sunderland in the cup.
Everton's victory left them seventh in the table, seven points behind Newcastle and 10 behind fifth-placed Chelsea in the only guaranteed Europa League spot.
It also kept them a point ahead of city rivals Liverpool, who were to play Newcastle on Sunday.
Albion are in 14th place, eight points above the relegation zone.
Osman and Darron Gibson both missed early chances as the hosts had the better of the possession. However, their goal had more to do with luck than domination.
Osman had a quick exchange of passes with Nikica Jelavic before launching a shot which took a giant deflection off Northern Ireland defender McAuley. Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster was caught stranded, having no chance of reaching the ball.
West Brom came out fighting and Toffees goalkeeper Tim Howard had to be alert to push out a shot from Paul Scharner. Chris Brunt tried to blast in the loose ball but his effort hit team-mate Shane Long instead.
Foster was then called into action again to tip a low Marouane Fellaini effort around the post, keeping the score 1-0 at half-time.
Jelavic, the Croatia striker, was at the heart of Everton's second-half push for another goal, sending a near-post header into Foster's hands, curling another effort over the crossbar and earning a caution for catching Liam Ridgewell with his arm.
Everton boss David Moyes brought off yellow-carded Australia midfielder Tim Cahill for Anichebe in the 62nd minute and the switch quickly paid off.
The Toffees' South Africa winger Steven Pienaar went on a diagonal run and Anichebe finished off the move, the Nigeria forward's strike going in off the far post.
Six minutes later, Pienaar was played in by Jelavic but his shot went straight at Foster.
Jelavic then put a header wide as Everton stepped up the attack and the frustration got to the Baggies, with Foster and his striker team-mate Peter Odemwingie exchanging sharp words as the match petered out.
It was referee Peter Walton's final Premier League match before the 52-year-old goes off to head the referees' body in the United States and Canada. He will become general manager for the newly-formed Professional Referee Organisation.
His last match in England saw him issue three yellow cards: two for Everton and one for Albion.