Everton leapfrogged Arsenal into fourth place in the Premier League with a 1-0 win at bottom of the table Sunderland on Saturday as English football marked the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
Fresh from their 3-0 victory over the Gunners last weekend, Roberto Martinez’s side had to wait until the 75th minute to score at the Stadium of Light when former Manchester United defender Wes Brown put Gerard Deulofeu’s cross into his own net.
Victory moved Everton into the Champions League places, two points ahead of Arsenal, who were in FA Cup semi-final action against Wigan at Wembley, with both clubs having five league games remaining this season.
“From our point of view, to keep a clean sheet in those circumstances was very pleasing and it was also important to take one of our chances too,” Everton manager Roberto Martinez told the BBC.
It was Everton’s seventh successive league victory, matching a similar run from their 1987 title-winning season.
Before kick-off, a minute’s silence was observed at all major English matches as a tribute to the looming 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
On April 15, 1989, 96 Liverpool fans died as a result of a crush at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground, where the Reds were playing in a FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
The game was halted in the sixth minute as fans desperately climbed over barriers in order to reach the safe haven of the pitch.
In memory of that match, all senior fixtures in England kicked off seven minutes late on Saturday.
At the Hawthorns, West Brom squandered a 3-0 lead in a 3-3 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
Under-fire Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood, widely tipped to leave White Hart Lane at the end of the season, said: “Perversely I am loving it. I like the stick. I am proud to be the manager of this great football club and long may it continue.”
Meanwhile things tightened up at the foot of the table as relegation-threatened Fulham and second-bottom Cardiff won to close the gap on the teams immediately above them.
Norwich may have sacked manager Chris Hughton in a bid to preserve their Premier League status but the Canaries first match under former youth coach Neil Adams left them even closer to relegation after a 1-0 defeat at Fulham, Hugo Rodallega scoring at Craven Cottage.
Victory left Fulham still in the bottom three but the London club closed the gap between themselves and Norwich to just two points with four games remaining.
Cardiff climbed to within three points of safety with a shock 1-0 win away to Southampton, with Juan Cala’s 65th-minute goal proving decisive at St Mary’s.
“I was proud of the effort everyone put in,” said Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“Another few clean sheets and we are right in it. We won’t give in until it is over,” the former Manchester United striker added.
Jason Puncheon’s 76th minute-goal saw Crystal Palace win 1-0 away to Aston Villa, a result that took the Eagles closer to survival and left Villa just four points above the relegation zone.
Elsewhere, Stoke beat Newcastle 1-0 courtesy of Erik Pieters’ 42nd minute-goal.
Sunday could have a key bearing on the destiny of the Premier League title when leaders Liverpool face third-placed Manchester City and Chelsea, currently second, travel to Swansea.
Liverpool will kick-off four points in front of City, and two ahead of Chelsea, at what is sure to be a highly-charged Anfield.
City, however, have two games in hand on both their title rivals.