Everton ended a miserable run of home form to keep their slim hopes of European football alive and give 6,500 returning fans something to cheer about as they edged out Wolves 1-0 at Goodison Park.
Richarlison’s 48th-minute header separated the sides on the night, giving Everton a first home win in six and only a second win in 10, though it was not one that came easily.
Coupled with Tottenham’s home defeat to Aston Villa, the win keeps Everton in the mix for Europa League football, although a far inferior goal difference and final-day trip to Manchester City still leaves them as outsiders.
Everton began the night with only five home wins all season, two of those coming in December when 2,000 fans were allowed in to back-to-back wins over Arsenal and Chelsea, and the returning faithful helped them complete their first league double over Wolves in 45 years.
They did it despite the absence of James Rodriguez – yet to play in front of a Goodison crowd as he was absent due to what manager Carlo Ancelotti said was fatigue.
It was one of the two changes to the Everton side from Sunday’s 1-0 home defeat to rock-bottom Sheffield United, a result Ancelotti had declared “embarrassing”, so it was not saying much that they began this match a little more brightly.
Wolves goalkeeper John Ruddy, making only his second Premier League start since May 2016 in place of Rui Patricio, was called into action in the 12th minute, but it was a routine save as Richarlison stooped to meet Allan’s cross.
Everton’s problems remained on show as they struggled to retain possession, allowing Wolves to increasingly dominate play to the frustration of the returning fans.
The visitors had nine corners in the opening half an hour and twice tested Jordan Pickford from them – the England goalkeeper saving well from Morgan Gibbs-White’s volley before turning a powerful effort from Adama Traore over the crossbar.
Everton huffed and puffed as their fans grew restless, with their best chance just before the break when Lucas Digne’s corner almost fell for Richarlison but his close-range effort was deflected wide by Nelson Semedo.
But almost immediately after the break the Brazilian made the breakthrough from another corner, rising above Willy Boly to head in Gylfi Sigurdsson’s out-swinging corner.
Everton tails were up, and moments later Digne’s sliding ball narrowly evaded Dominic Calvert-Lewin, rolling instead for Seamus Coleman whose shot was deflected wide.
Wolves sent on Willian Jose in a bid to get back into the game, but struggled to turn the tide as Everton went close again in the 70th minute when Calvert-Lewin forced a save from Ruddy after being played through by Richarlison.
The ever-dangerous Traore continued to probe for Wolves but one dangerous attack was shut down by a superb sliding tackle from Michael Keane, while Abdoulaye Doucoure scrambled back to turn a shot cross behind for a corner – surviving a lengthy VAR check that he had not used his hands to do so.
Everton’s best chances for a second were coming through Sigurdsson, who twice went close from the edge of the area, bending one shot agonisingly wide from the edge of the area before another was deflected wide by Max Kilman.
As Wolves pushed forward in the final minutes, Richarlison’s cross narrowly eluded Calvert-Lewin’s slide, but Everton could celebrate regardless.