Everton came from behind to beat West Ham at Upton Park to retain fourth place in the Premier League table in game that saw both clubs reduced to 10-men.
The Toffees are unbeaten in six games now since losing to Reading in mid-November and will celebrate Christmas safe in the knowledge that their Champions League hopes are firmly intact following a tricky trip to the capital.
Sam Allardyce will feel his side were unfairly handicapped when Carlton Cole was shown a straight red card by referee Anthony Taylor with the game poised at 1-1 with 25 minutes left to play.
But, that was just one of a number of strange decisions made by Taylor, who also sent off Darron Gibson in stoppage time, throughout the afternoon.
The first came just in the 10th minute when Leon Osman’s header from Leighton Baines’ corner was ruled out after Victor Anichebe was ruled to have impeded Hammers keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Everton’s frustrations were compounded three minutes later as Cole was given too much time to turn and take aim and lash a low show past Tim Howard from 20-yards.
After a dull first period the visitors intensified their search for an equaliser after the break and should have been level when the ball broke to Nikica Jelavic in the penalty area but he could only shoot straight at Jaaskelainen.
David Moyes’ men were certainly missing the physical presence of suspended top scorer Marouane Fellaini but finally broke the West Ham resistance when Anichebe rose to deftly guide Steven Pienaar’s cross into the net in the 64th minute.
Cole was then handed his marching orders a minute later for raising his boot too high in a challenge with Baines and the numerical advantage worked in the visitors favour as Pienaar bundled home after neat interplay with Osman on the left.
Kevin Nolan went close twice in the closing stages before Gibson suffered a similar fate to that of Cole after a challenge with Mark Noble.