Everton 1 - 0 Cardiff City
Everton eked out a narrow 1-0 victory over Cardiff to record their fourth successive win at Goodison Park thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson's second-half goal.
The Icelandic international was named in the starting XI after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the goalless draw at Chelsea a fortnight ago and he slotted home the only goal of this afternoon's game after Theo Walcott's shot had been palmed into his path.
It was no more than Everton's predicted dominance deserved but, for the most part, there was plenty of post-international break rustiness on show when Marco Silva's men got into the final third.
Indeed, it took the Toffees a while to get going and the first real chance would fall to the visitors when Callum Paterson capitalised on a mistake by Yerry Mina to get in behind the defence but dragged his shot across goal.
Enjoying his best performance in a Blue shirt so far, André Gomes had Everton's first sight of goal when he drove past his man but smashed a shot into the side-netting before Richarlison squandered the hosts' best chance of the first half with a weak downward header off a Sigurdsson free-kick.
As they have been so often at home this season, Everton were better after half-time and Sigurdsson created a chance for a trademark effort from distance in the 52nd minute when he wrong-footed Gunnarsson but blasted high over the bar.
Three minutes later, the Nordic star looked to have broken the deadlock when Bernard played him in in the penalty area, he rounded Neil Etheridge but Sol Bamba blocked his shot on the goal line.
Sigurdsson only had to wait four more minutes to get his goal, however. Walcott profited from a fortunate ricochet off Greg Cunningham on the Blues' right flank, surged into the space ahead of him and cut a shot in search of the bottom corner that Etheridge saved one-handed. The ball fell straight to Sigurdsson, though, and he stroked it into the empty net.
Cardiff forced the first save from Jordan Pickford with 20 minutes to go when the England ‘keeper beat away Víctor Camarasa's shot before Ademola Lookman replaced Walcott and almost produced a wonder goal within 10 minutes of coming on.
The winger danced his way through a cluster of three white shirts and collected a bounce off a defender's leg before attempting to place his shot past the keeper but Etheridge got a hand to it to divert it behind for a corner.
Cardiff pushed for an equaliser into the close and Paterson headed over from a free kick after Idrissa Gueye had clumsily fouled Josh Murphy while Seamus Coleman appeared fortunate to avoid conceding a penalty with a trip on Junior Hoilett.
At the other end, meanwhile, Richarlison was denied again by Etheridge and substitute Cenk Tosun choked a decent chance from Lookman's square pass that was comfortably stopped.
Hoilett created the final chance of the game with a cross that picked out Murphy but while he was able to chest it down, his effort was charged down and Everton held on to claim the three points.
The win moves Silva's side into 6th place in the Premier League for the time being and enhances their credentials as candidates for a European spot this season ahead of some tough fixtures looming in December against three teams in the top four.