Everton plunged themselves deeper into relegation trouble with a costly 3-2 defeat away at Burnley.
Two Richarlison penalties had given the Blues a 2-1 half-time lead after Nathan Collins’ opener for the hosts.
But after the Toffees spurned several good opportunities to put the game to bed, defensive errors allowed the Clarets back into the game and strikes from Jay Rodriguez and Maxwel Cornet saw Sean Dyche’s side earn a crucial three points.
The defeat means Everton are now only one point ahead of the Lancashire side in 18th place, with the same number of matches played and a less than favourable run of fixtures until the end of the campaign does not bode well for the club who have been a top flight member since 1954.
It was clear in the build-up to the match just important a win would be for both sides’ survival chances and a nervy Everton fell behind after just 12 minutes as defender Collins scored his first ever Burnley goal from a routine corner.
The Toffees were allowed a route back into the match six minutes later when they were awarded a penalty for a foul on Anthony Gordon and Richarlison coolly dispatched his spot-kick.
After that, Frank Lampard’s side looked the more likely to score again but it took another Richarlison penalty for them to finally take the lead on 41 minutes.
The Blues continued to threaten after the interval as Richarlison had two good chances to score and Gordon saw a shot blocked by a retreating James Tarkowski.
They were made to pay for their wasteful finishing on 57 minutes when a Jonjoe Kenny error allowed left-back Charlie Taylor to burst into the box and pull it back for Rodriguez to slam home.
After surrendering their lead, an Everton side continuously criticised for their lack of character seemed to fall flat and Cornet’s 85th minute winner after a Ben Godfrey mistake had been a long time coming.
In what had been billed as one of the most important matches for the club this century, Everton had failed yet again and for many fans this defeat appeared to be the final nail in the coffin and all but confirmation of their imminent relegation.
The performance had not been abysmal but it was indicative of the overall lack of quality or character within the side.
It was a game they played well enough in to win but ultimately didn’t have the clinical edge to see off.
Will it be the absence of that clinical edge that ends up costing Everton their Premier League status in six weeks’ time?