Everton 1-0 Fulham

Steven Pienaar

Everton stayed in the running for a place in Europe next season after victory over Fulham at Goodison Park.

Steven Pienaar's stylish finish from Seamus Coleman's low cross condemned Fulham to a fourth defeat in five.

Everton, now three points behind fifth-placed Spurs, twice went close to extending their lead through Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas.

But Fulham, who lost Dimitar Berbatov to injury, almost equalised through Urby Emanuelson's 12-yard effort.

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Everton aiming for Europe - Moyes

Fellaini will wonder how he failed to find the net in the closing stages after side-footing Leighton Baines's cross over the bar from close range.

But Everton will head into the Merseyside derby at Anfield on 5 May with revived hopes of making the Europa League after Tottenham could only draw 2-2 at struggling Wigan.

Manager David Moyes had warned the doubters before the match not to write off the possibility of Everton gracing the continental stage next season.

And certainly their first-half performance showed they have not given up on securing a top-five place.

The Toffees might have lost at Sunderland seven days earlier but they have turned Goodison Park into a fortress at the business end of the season.

This was their fifth straight home win in the league - and a fourth without conceding.

Fellaini had already forced goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer into a save from a corner when Pienaar's sixth Premier League goal of the campaign provided Moyes with a belated present two days after the Scot's 50th birthday.

It followed a slick 16th-minute move, Leon Osman's clever pass allowing Coleman to tee-up the South African to place the ball beyond Schwarzer.

There was a real confidence about Moyes's men yet their inability to find a second goal almost proved costly against mid-table opponents.

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Fulham boss Jol wants top 10 finish

Alexander Kacaniklic's shot had Tim Howard scurrying across his line before Everton responded through Fellaini's goalbound shot which was blocked by team-mate Victor Anichebe.

Martin Jol's side, who lost Berbatov in the first half before Kieran Richardson was also forced off injured, were much improved after the interval.

Emanuelson squandered a chance when he shot narrowly wide from 12 yards yet it was the hosts who finished strongly.

Fellaini somehow failed to convert Baines's cross while 19-year-old substitute Ross Barkley forced a fine stop from Schwarzer in the closing stages as Fulham slipped to a 20th straight league defeat at Everton.

Everton manager David Moyes:

"It was harder work than it needed to be but we played well at times.

"At 1-0 there was always a chance they could score. I thought our football was excellent at times but we didn't really turn that good football into goals.

"We have beaten last year's total with those points and that hopefully shows a sign of progress.

"We will try to keep it going until the end of the season and if we do get in Europe we will have certainly earned it because the sides above us are all good sides."

Fulham manager Martin Jol:

"At the start you saw they (Everton) were eager, hungry, and they caused us some problems but it was only 1-0.

"In the second half we were better in possession and with a little bit more luck we could have had a point.

"But they could have scored two or three goals as well.

"Berbatov has got a tear in his calf."

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