SHEFFIELD: Everton moved two places up to second in the Premier League and finished in the top four on Christmas Day for the first time in 16 years after a late Gylfi Sigurdsson goal gave them a 1-0 win at bottom team Sheffield United on Saturday.
The result left Everton on 29 points from 15 games, two behind champions and leaders Liverpool who are at home to West Browmich Albion on Sunday, while the winless Blades stayed rooted to the bottom with two points.
Missing several key players, Everton looked subdued in the first half and nearly fell behind in the 16th minute as Ben Godfrey cleared David McGoldrick’s scrambled shot off the line.
The visitors came close in the 29th when Dominic Calvert-Lewin superbly chested down a long pass by Michael Keane and unleashed a ferocious volley from the edge of the penalty area just wide of the far post.
Oliver Burke slammed a close-range shot from a tight angle across the face of goal at the other end on the stroke of halftime before the game fizzed out in the second half and appeared to be heading for a barren draw.
But Icelandic midfielder Sigurdsson struck in the 80th minute, planting a calm shot past goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale into the far corner after good work from substitute Bernard and midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure.