It was not pretty but that will have mattered not one jot to David Moyes after his team ground out only their second home League victory of the season. Everton had to do it the hard way, coming from behind in front of a nervy crowd after Wolves had gone in front through Stephen Hunt's 37th-minute penalty.
Although Jack Rodwell, Goodison's new England midfielder, was absent with the rib injury sustained against Sweden, his international team-mates Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines were the men who turned the game around, Jagielka equalising on the stroke of half-time before Baines' late penalty winner. "It was a really important win, the points were vital for us," said Moyes. "The game was tight and we ended up winning it with two set pieces."
Everton were on a run of five defeats in six before yesterday and the mood was not helped by an embarrassing leak of internal club emails 48 hours before this game which, if authentic, suggest worrying divisions in the corridors of power at Goodison.
There was also a pre-match protest march organised by the Blue Union, the group of supporters unhappy with owner Bill Kenwright's failure to attract fresh investment, although Kenwright responded to his detractors in the press room afterwards, telling reporters about discussions with a number of parties. "I'm searching hard for a wealthy benefactor," he said. "I am searching hard and I will find one." Either way, the pressure was on Moyes's players to bring some much-needed cheer but it was not immediately forthcoming.
Everton threatened only once in the first half-hour, with a Louis Saha shot tipped over by Wayne Hennessey. The opening goal arrived at the other end when Marouane Fellaini, who signed a new five-year contract on Thursday, committed a daft trip on David Edwards just inside the Everton area and Hunt drove his spot-kick high down the middle of the goal.
Everton equalised just before the break when Baines swung over a free-kick from 35 yards out and Jagielka got above the old gold shirts to divert the ball past Hennessey, the ball flying in off the side of his head. With Sylvain Distin injured, Moyes admitted he cannot afford to rest Jagielka who is not training in the week because of a hairline fracture of his little toe.
Everton might have had a penalty soon after when Karl Henry held Tim Cahill back as he looked to turn in the rebound after Hennessey's save from Fellaini. Referee Jon Moss ignored that appeal but instead pointed to the spot with seven minutes remaining when Saha went down under a challenge from Stephen Ward as a Baines corner came into the box. Mick McCarthy, the Wolves manager, said: "Apart from it not being a corner, it was extremely soft, I thought."
McCarthy also lost the defender Richard Stearman to a serious-looking injury after a collision with Cahill in the second half. "He's brokenhis arm or his wrist," he said.
If lacking inspiration, Everton just about deserved their victory, having gradually built up pressure on Wolves' goal in the second half. Cahill was foiled by a combination of Ward and Hennessey when he looked certain to score from six yards while Saha had a snapshot deflected wide shortlybefore Baines' penalty.
"It was great credit to the lads that they kept going – they deserved it," said Moyes.
Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines; Coleman, Osman, Fellaini, Drenthe (Bilyaletdinov, 86); Cahill (Vellios, 73); Saha (Stracqualursi, 90).
Wolves (4-41-1): Hennessey; Stearman (Elokobi, 59), Johnson, Berra, Ward; Edwards (Fletcher, 86), Henry, Milijas (Jarvis, 79), Hunt; O'Hara; Doyle.
Referee Jon Moss.
Man of the match Baines (Everton).
Match rating 6/10.