Toffees move to fourth with important three points…
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Everton saved their best until last as the Toffees climbed to fourth in the Premier League with a 4-1 win over Fulham on Saturday.
Roberto Martinez’s side were in danger of being held to a lacklustre draw against the struggling Cottagers when Dimitar Berbatov’s second half penalty cancelled out Leon Osman’s early opener.
But Seamus Coleman restored Everton’s advantage in the 73rd minute with a strike that Fulham protested was offside, before goals in the closing moments from Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas killed off the relegation-threatened visitors.
Some of the gloss was taken off Everton’s victory by the hamstring injury suffered by on-loan Barcelona striker Gerard Deulofeu, which could see him miss the busy Christmas programme.
Everton are now one point ahead of fifth placed Liverpool, who face Tottenham on Sunday.
Fulham’s 21st consecutive defeat at Goodison Park dropped Rene Meulensteen’s side to second bottom of the table.
After a low-key start, Everton took the lead in the 18th minute.
Sylvain Distin picked up the ball on the halfway line and played it short to Bryan Oviedo, who slipped it inside for Steven Pienaar.
The South African instantly shuffled the ball across to Osman, who having controlled it with his right foot transferred it to his left before curling a composed effort inside Maarten Stekelenburg’s post from just inside the penalty area.
Everton striker Romelu Lukaku went close when he met Pienaar’s corner with an instinctive effort which Stekelenburg brilliantly tipped around the post.
After Coleman had seen a low shot denied by Stekelenburg, Lukaku picked the wrong option in trying to square to Pienaar as he bore down on goal.
Fulham looked a different side in the second half and twice early on forced Tim Howard into saves, firstly from Scott Parker and then Steve Sidwell, with Alex Kacaniklic slamming the rebound from the latter chance high over the bar.
The west Londoners finally equalised when England midfielder Barry was adjudged to have brought down Kacaniklic and former Manchester United striker Berbatov stroked home the resulting penalty in the 67th minute.
Everton’s hopes seemed to be fading at that point. But they are unbeaten at Goodison in 2013 and rallied with Pienaar, who looked to be offside, cutting back for Coleman to score the decisive second goal six minutes later.
Barry ended Fulham’s chances of another comeback when he headed home from close range after a scramble at a corner in the 84th minute and Mirallas sealed the win in stoppage-time.