Dwight McNeil’s second-half goal clinched Everton a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest and lifted them off the foot of the Premier League table.
Everton had slipped to the bottom before the late kick-off at the City Ground after Burnley’s win against relegation rivals Sheffield United.
But McNeil lashed home the only goal to clinch Everton a morale-boosting victory one day after the club lodged their appeal against their 10-point deduction for breaching the Premier League’s financial rules.
Everton, who have not lost at the City Ground since 1995, notched their third win in five league matches to climb to within two points of safety while Forest slipped to a third straight defeat and back-to-back home losses.
Wayward finishing and heroic defending ensured a goalless first half as both sides spurned scoring chances.
Everton should have broken the deadlock in the 23rd minute, with Beto blazing over an empty net when he looked odds-on to register his first Premier League goal.
Forest goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos dropped a cross after tangling with team-mate Willy Boly but Beto, back in the starting line-up for the first time since September in place of the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin, fired off target.
Forest had made the better start but came under siege for a prolonged spell in the first period and were also indebted to Murillo. The Brazilian defender cleared McNeil’s angled shot off the goal line and needed treatment after falling awkwardly into the net.
Anthony Elanga had earlier pulled a low shot wide for Forest, who could have snatched the lead in first-half stoppage time through Morgan Gibbs-White but he fired into the side netting after being played in by Ibrahim Sangare.
Forest made a fast start to the second half, with substitute Felipe soon in the thick of the action.
His shot following a goalmouth scramble clipped a post and moments later the Brazilian was booked for hauling down McNeil outside his own area.
Ryan Yates had gone to ground under Doucoure’s challenge following the corner which had led to Felipe’s effort, but Forest’s penalty appeals were waved away and they fell behind soon after.
Jack Harrison’s cross from the right picked out McNeil at the far post and he took one touch before rifling his first goal of the season into the far corner.
McNeil raced in on goal shortly after but was thwarted by Serge Aurier’s last-ditch tackle and Forest went close to an equaliser when Elanga rounded Jordan Pickford only to shoot into the side netting from a tight angle.
Pickford rescued Everton in the 81st minute when racing out of his goal to deny Elanga and saved well again from Murillo’s fierce effort.
Forest poured forward in search of a late equaliser but Elanga’s shot curled inches wide and at the final whistle soon after, Everton’s travelling fans burst into a chorus of We Shall Not Be Moved.