Match ends, Chelsea 1, Everton 0.
Chelsea 1-0 Everton
- Willian's late goal keeps Chelsea seven points clear
- Gareth Barry sent off moments before goal
- Ivanovic escapes punishment for McCarthy clash
- Cech denies Lukaku with outstanding save
An 89th-minute deflected strike from Willian gave Chelsea a victory over Everton that maintained their seven-point Premier League lead.
The goal came moments after Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic went unpunished for a clash with James McCarthy that followed Gareth Barry's red card.
Everton keeper Tim Howard had earlier denied Chelsea trio Loic Remy, Nemanja Matic and Willian with fine saves.
At the other end, Petr Cech brilliantly denied Romelu Lukaku from close range.
Barry's second yellow card for a trip on the game's goalscorer sparked a melee during which Ivanovic got McCarthy in a head-lock and appeared to thrust his head towards his opponent's back.
When play resumed, a free-kick from deep was punched out by Howard as far as Willian, whose low shot glanced Steven Naismith on its way into the corner of the net.
It was a dramatic finish to an unconvincing performance from Jose Mourinho's men, who were moments away from seeing their lead cut to five points by Manchester City, who were 4-1 winners at Stoke.
In the final match of Diego Costa's ban for stamping, the hosts lacked penetration in attack, with new signing Juan Cuadrado struggling to make an impact on his first start.
They also came across a formidable obstacle in the shape of Howard, who was returning from a calf injury that had kept him out since Boxing Day.
In a lively opening period, Chelsea had a penalty appeal waved away when Naismith parried the ball with his arm.
Willian and Cuadrado both squandered openings before Howard palmed aside Remy's header.
Everton threatened on the break, with the recalled Ross Barkley feeding former Chelsea striker Lukaku, whose low shot was saved by Cech with his legs.
That incident proved to be a precursor to an even more crucial intervention by the home keeper midway through the second period.
Enjoying a rare start in front of Thibaut Courtois, the Czech Republic star stretched out a leg to deny Lukaku's close-range effort from Bryan Oviedo's low cross, a save that drew a standing ovation from the home crowd.
With John Stones outstanding in the Everton back four and Howard flying to his left to deny Matic's free-kick and Willian's curled effort, time appeared to be running out for Chelsea.
And when Matic had a late goal ruled out because Ivanovic was in an offside position, Mourinho's misery appeared to be compounded.
There was still time for a late twist, however, and while Everton contested Barry's red and pointed the finger at Ivanovic, Willian pounced to steal the points.
BBC Match of the Day's Phil Neville:
"There has been a lack of intensity in Chelsea's last three games. It shows how important Cesc Fabreags and Diego Costa are to this team.
"I think Thibaut Courtois is being protected. It's clever management. He made a couple of mistakes. He has been number one since the start of the season and Jose Mourinho has made a big call. I think Petr Cech and Courtois are the best pair of keepers in world football."
- 28AzpilicuetaBooked at 15mins
- 7Santos do NascimentoBooked at 89mins
- 23Ju CuadradoSubstituted forFàbregasat 70'minutesBooked at 88mins
- 22WillianSubstituted forCahillat 90+2'minutes
- 10E Hazard
- 18RemySubstituted forDrogbaat 70'minutes
- 3Filipe Luís
- 23ColemanBooked at 58mins
- 17BesicBooked at 5minsSubstituted forMcCarthyat 45'minutesBooked at 89mins
- 18BarryBooked at 88mins
- 25LennonSubstituted forMirallasat 74'minutes
- 20BarkleySubstituted forGibsonat 74'minutes
- Jonathan Moss
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Chelsea 1, Everton 0.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Darron Gibson (Everton).
Substitution, Chelsea. Gary Cahill replaces Willian.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Seamus Coleman (Everton).
Goal! Chelsea 1, Everton 0. Willian (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner following a set piece situation.
Ramires (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.
James McCarthy (Everton) is shown the yellow card.
Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.
Second yellow card to Gareth Barry (Everton) for a bad foul.
Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Gareth Barry (Everton).
Offside, Chelsea. Nemanja Matic tries a through ball, but Branislav Ivanovic is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Nemanja Matic (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Bryan Oviedo.
Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by James McCarthy (Everton).
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Seamus Coleman.
Attempt blocked. Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Nemanja Matic.
Attempt missed. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Attempt missed. Kevin Mirallas (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Romelu Lukaku.
Attempt saved. Darron Gibson (Everton) header from outside the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Romelu Lukaku.
Substitution, Everton. Kevin Mirallas replaces Aaron Lennon.
Substitution, Everton. Darron Gibson replaces Ross Barkley.
Attempt blocked. César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ramires.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Steven Naismith.
Substitution, Chelsea. Didier Drogba replaces Loïc Remy.
Substitution, Chelsea. Cesc Fàbregas replaces Juan Cuadrado.
Attempt saved. Romelu Lukaku (Everton) left footed shot from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Bryan Oviedo with a cross.
Corner, Everton. Conceded by Kurt Zouma.
Foul by Ramires (Chelsea).
Gareth Barry (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Loïc Remy (Chelsea).
Bryan Oviedo (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Willian (Chelsea) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Eden Hazard.
Juan Cuadrado (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Bryan Oviedo (Everton).
Ramires (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.