Everton traveled to Sunderland to play a side rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table, but things were never going to be that easy. There were some tense moments during the game and it looked like the Blues would drop precious points but ultimately were the deserved winners even though the winner was a deflected own goal in the end.
Tim Howard - 7
The American goalie got the job done, making solid saves when required to. Sunderland didn't necessarily test him on the day either. His thirteenth clean sheet of the season was also his hundredth in goal for the Blues.
Seamus Coleman - 6.5
A quiet kind of day for Coleman after his heroics against Arsenal a week ago. Was called upon more on the defensive side of the ball and answered the call.
John Stones - 8
The youngster was once again spectacular while drawing little attention to himself. He is quickly building quite the reputation for himself - the murmurs from a week or so ago that Roy Hodgson needs to consider him for the World Cup squad are now getting louder by the game. Baines also owes him a couple of pints for saving his bacon - more on that later.
Sylvain Distin - 7
Another straightforward game for Distin - kept Fabio Borini to the outside all game long and limited his chances to peripheral ones.
Leighton Baines - 6.5
The England left back had a simple game without exerting himself too much. Did make a critical mistake on which attritional games like this sometimes hinge. His poor back pass to Howard left the goalie stranded and Borini rounded him easily to slot towards the goal. Luckily for him though Stones was on hand to clear the ball from the line.
James McCarthy - 7.5
McCarthy and Barry controlled the game from the middle of the pitch, just like they have done numerous times this year. The Irishman had a couple of crucial blocks as well, like he does just about every game.
Gareth Barry - 7.5
Quite how Hodgson continues to overlook Barry's strong performances no one will ever know. Meanwhile Barry can just keep on playing the midfield general like he is and keep Toffees marching on towards the Champions League.
Gerard Deulofeu - 7.5 [off 78']
The Barcelona loanee is always full of running whenever he gets a chance to play and Saturday was no different. Deulofeu was easily Everton's most dangerous player on the day and gave Sunderland's Marcos Alonso a torrid time down the right. It was almost inevitable that Everton's goal would be a product of his play, and it was, as Wes Brown deflected his cross into the net.
Leon Osman - 5.5 [off 58']
Osman started again in the central attacking midfield role but looked off the pace for most of his time on the pitch. While not wasteful, he didn't add much to the game either.
Steven Naismith - 6
This was the Naismith of the David Moyes era. Had a couple of gilt-edged chances that fell to him, and he contrived to spurn them both. Before this game he could do no wrong in the eyes of many Everton fans, but this game would have brought him down a peg pr two.
Romelu Lukaku - 6
Lukaku also looked off the boil, as if he hadn't recovered yet from the intense game against Arsenal last week. He missed a chance or two that would have otherwise bulged the net on any other day.
Ross Barkley - 6.5 [on 58']
The introduction of Barkley brought about some creativity that was otherwise lacking all game long. He could have had a goal as well.
Aiden McGeady - 6.5 [on 78']
McGeady helped the defensive effort that kept the Black Cats at bay towards the end of the game.
Roberto Martinez - 6.5
The boys were curiously flat in this game. While they ground out their seventh win on the trot, an Everton record in the Premier League era, they weren't the fluid attacking side that had demolished the Gunners the previous week. Still, these are games that the Blues have failed to collect maximum points from in the past. Martinez didn't necessarily have a set plan in place for beating Sunderland, but lady luck had the final say.