Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 0, Everton 1.
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti admitted he is "dreaming" of Champions League qualification, but said his side's performances must improve to make that a reality.
The Toffees gained a hard-fought 1-0 win over struggling West Bromwich Albion, thanks to Richarlison's header when he converted a cross from substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson, who had only been on the pitch for 43 seconds.
Victory took Everton on to 46 points from 26 games and briefly up to fourth in the Premier League - the last Champions League qualifying spot - before Chelsea's 1-0 win at Liverpool dropped Ancelotti's side to fifth.
"At the start of the season no-one could say Everton, after 26 games, would be there," said the Italian, who has won the Champions League as manager of AC Milan and Real Madrid.
"The dream is the Champions League - it would be fantastic to follow this dream. It's a step in the career of everyone.
"We're in the fight but you need to sacrifice until the end. There's more pressure because we're in the fight for Europe, we want to be there and we've worked really hard to be there.
"This is our step and our target. We have to step up a bit, there's more to sacrifice.
"If I look at the table I'm really happy because the position is good but it's not the end of the season and we have to fight."
West Brom had been the better team in the first half at The Hawthorns but England keeper Jordan Pickford made an excellent save to keep out Mbaye Diagne's second-minute header.
Diagne thought he had grabbed a 93rd-minute equaliser when he controlled a pass and shot into the net, but he was denied because he was narrowly offside, with the video assistant referee (VAR) confirming the on-field decision.
West Brom are 19th, in the relegation zone and nine points behind 17th-placed Newcastle United, who they host on Sunday.
- West Brom v Everton as it happened, plus reaction, analysis and the rest of Thursday's Premier League action
- Listen to the latest Football Daily podcast
- Lawro's predictions v DJ & producer Majestic
Ancelotti's Everton continue to get results
Everton have been English champions on nine occasions but since the launch of the Premier League for the 1992-93 season, have only finished in the top four once - in 2004-05.
Indeed, they have never played in the group stage of the Champions League, missing out in 2005-06 after a 4-2 aggregate loss to Spanish side Villarreal in the third qualifying round.
However, with 12 league games to go, Ancelotti's team have a great chance to be playing alongside the continent's elite next season.
Thursday's win continues a remarkable turnaround for the Toffees, who were in the Premier League relegation zone under Marco Silva in December 2019, before he was sacked and caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson lifted them out of the bottom three, with Ancelotti then continuing that progress.
Instrumental in Everton's revival has been Dominic Calvert-Lewin and the England striker, who scored a hat-trick in the Toffees' 5-2 win over West Brom at Goodison Park in September, had their best chance of the first half.
A fortunate deflection took the ball into his path but he shot against goalkeeper Sam Johnstone's legs from 12 yards with only the keeper to beat.
Richarlison also had a first-half chance but a superb challenge from Darnell Furlong denied the Brazilian, as the deflection took the shot narrowly over the top.
But the forward was not to be denied later on when he got in front of Johnstone to meet Sigurdsson's cross from the left and powerfully head home from close range.
The result also continues Everton's fine away record - they have now won nine of 13 league games on the road this season.
Baggies perform well, but fail to pick up a point
West Brom had come into this game on an unbeaten run of three games, with clean sheets in their past two, and they will surely feel they deserved something from this game.
They thought they had got a point in injury time, when Diagne superbly controlled the ball and fired past Pickford - but the assistant referee raised his flag and the VAR footage showed he was offside by under a foot.
Manager Sam Allardyce has managed seven other clubs in the Premier League - including Everton - but never been relegated from the top flight, although this will surely be one of the best achievements of his career if he can keep the Baggies up.
He replaced the sacked Slaven Bilic after West Brom had picked up seven points from their opening 13 games, but they have now only gained an additional 10 points in Allardyce's 14 matches in charge.
However, he should be pleased with his side's performance on Thursday.
Diagne was their main threat but he was denied by Pickford in the second minute, then later shot over on the turn and also headed just off target following Furlong's long throw.
Those missed chances proved costly as Richarlison's goal proved the difference and gave Everton the three points.
Allardyce was unhappy a penalty was not awarded for Mason Holgate's challenge on Diagne, a decision which referee Darren England was not asked to review on the pitchside monitor.
"I've seen 50 or 60 penalties given for less than that and I don't know why it wasn't given," Allardyce told BBC Match of the Day.
"Holgate went straight across his standing leg and when you slow it down it looks even worse.
"Why [video assistant referee] Michael Oliver has not asked him to have a look at it and just dismissed it, I don't know."
Everton do the double over West Brom again - the stats
- This was Everton's fifth Premier League double over West Brom - more than they have managed against any other side.
- The Toffees have won nine away league games this season, their joint-most on the road in a campaign in the competition (also 2008-09).
- Everton have scored more headed goals than any other Premier League side this season, with Richarlison's winner their 11th.
- No team has failed to score in more different home Premier League games this season than West Brom (eight), with the Baggies also conceding a league-high 33 goals in home games.
- Richarlison scored in his fourth consecutive Premier League game for Everton, becoming the first Brazilian player to score in four matches in a row in the competition.
'Best 90 minutes since I've been here' - what they said
West Brom manager Allardyce, speaking to Match of the Day, said: "When you start well and play as well as we did, we only have ourselves to blame.
"We got a good finish at the end but it was probably two millimetres offside.
"I thought we had the better opportunities and am very satisfied with the performance, but it does not mean a lot when you don't get the points.
"You have to defend crosses and Richarlison made it his own. I would've been satisfied with a point - but that's the best 90 minutes since I've been here."
Everton boss Ancelotti told Match of the Day: "It was really hard, really difficult, but the Premier League is like this. West Brom has a lot of strength, fight, long balls and a lot of spirit. We needed to be ready and we were ready.
"Defensively we are strong and we have quality at set-pieces and on the counter-attack.
"We're doing well and now we're in the fight at the top of the table. The season is still long but we are there and pleased to be there.
"I would like to say the season has been a fantastic one at the end of the season."
West Brom face a big match next as they entertain 17th-placed Newcastle on Sunday (12:00 GMT) before an away game at Crystal Palace on Saturday, 13 March (15:00).
Everton travel to Chelsea on Monday (18:00) and then host Burnley on 13 March (17:30).
- 2FurlongBooked at 68mins
- 27O'SheaBooked at 60mins
- 35YokusluBooked at 82mins
- 12Costa Pereira
- 18GallagherSubstituted forRobson-Kanuat 78'minutes
- 10PhillipsSubstituted forSnodgrassat 78'minutes
- 4HolgateBooked at 37mins
- 17IwobiSubstituted forAllanat 58'minutes
- 16DoucouréSubstituted forG Sigurdssonat 64'minutes
- 21André Gomes
- 20BernardSubstituted forKingat 84'minutes
- 10G Sigurdsson
- 31Neves Virgínia
- Darren England
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, West Bromwich Albion 0, Everton 1.
VAR Decision: No Goal West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Everton.
Offside, West Bromwich Albion. Ainsley Maitland-Niles tries a through ball, but Mbaye Diagne is caught offside.
Foul by André Gomes (Everton).
Okay Yokuslu (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt blocked. Matheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Okay Yokuslu.
Attempt blocked. Matheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Hal Robson-Kanu.
Substitution, Everton. Joshua King replaces Bernard.
Michael Keane (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Mbaye Diagne (West Bromwich Albion).
Okay Yokuslu (West Bromwich Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Bernard (Everton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Okay Yokuslu (West Bromwich Albion).
Attempt blocked. Robert Snodgrass (West Bromwich Albion) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.
Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Mason Holgate.
Foul by Richarlison (Everton).
Matheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Hal Robson-Kanu replaces Conor Gallagher.
Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Robert Snodgrass replaces Matt Phillips.
- Supporting your immune system: Can eating certain foods help?
- Radio 1's Screen Time: Daniel Radcliffe on his tense new prison-break thriller