EVERTON were held to a draw by fellow European hopefuls Birmingham despite racing to a two-goal lead.
The Toffees capitalised on a slow start by the home side to open the scoring through a fine individual goal by Victor Anichebe.
Then David Moyes's side looked to have settled the affair in the 22nd minute when Yakubu nodded in Steven Pienaar's lobbed pass from close range.
But Cameron Jerome quickly restored Birmingham's interest when he swivelled to turn in a Keith Fahey centre.
And Craig Gardner completed a route-one move just after the break to level with a first time shot which beat Howard.
While the shared spoils was a fair result, Moyes will rue the missed opportunity to leap-frog the Midlanders in the table and further press Everton's dwindling Europa League ambitions.
But while it was the second time in three months that the sides have cancelled each other out in league combat, a game of rising drama was a far cry from December's 1-1 draw.
Again, Birmingham recovered from a lively Everton start to take a share of the spoils from a tussle that at one stage was threatening to get away from them.
A quiet opening spell offered little hint of the drama to follow, but with the end of the first quarter approaching a glut of three goals in seven explosive minutes followed.
Everton's superior midfield began to tell, as they probed along the right through Phil Neville.