EVERTON boosted their top six credentials with a rare and magnificent victory over Manchester United at Goodison.
The Blues beat Alex Ferguson's title contenders 3-1 in the early kick-off thanks to a display of effort and endeavour every bit as impressive as the performance which saw Chelsea leave Walton defeated.
The icing on the cake was a late winner by 18-year-old Jack Rodwell, to add to strikes from fellow teenager Dan Gosling and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
The Blues looked to threaten early with a surging Landon Donovan run, and then Leon Osman jinked his way through the United defence and dragged his shot just narrowly wide.
United went on the counter attack and won a corner courtesy of Dimitar Berbatov's persistence, but Everton defended robustly as they continued to enjoy the livelier start in front of a packed Goodison Park.
Then Alex Ferguson's side, buoyed by a healhy away support, caused Everton more jitters with Berbatov again threatening in the penalty area, and the Bulgarian almost slipped Wayne Rooney through on goal moments later.
More United possession saw Darren fetcher, who scored a scorching volley against the Blues at Old Trafford, fire over from just outside the box, as the Red Devils saw more and more of the ball.
But Everton were denied a strong penalty claim when Antonio Valencia handled in the box, only for Hiward Webb to wave away the Toffee's claims.
Incensed, the Blues then went inches from taking the lead when a looping cross from Distin found Bilyaletdinov in the area, and the Russian did well to whip the ball back across goal where Louis Saha would have headed home the simplest of chances but for Wes Brown's last-ditch intervention.
Saha showed he was in the mood only minutes later, testing Van De Sar with a potent strike from 15 yards which the United keeper could only parry.
With a grim predictability born of winning 17 of the last 19 Premier League clashes at Goodison, United took the lead with 15 minutes gone.
Valencia beat Leighton Baines on the left and his low cross was not blocked with rnough conviction by Distin. The ball broke for Berbatov who rapped his shot in off the bar.
But Everton responded in style three minutes later. A long ball from John Heitnga was carelessly left by Patrice Evra, and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov seized on it to fire a left-footed rocket past the stranded Van de Sar
On 25 minutes Everton could have doubled their lead when the classy Saha dummied in the area and this time Bilyaletdinov fired over.
As the game developed a ripe end to end tempo, United almost scored when Berbatov played a one two with Rooney, and the former Blue looked certain to score but for a magnificent piece of defending by Phil Neville to shepherd him away from goal.
Dilatory Everton defending then gifted United a corner, but the impressive Heitinga dealt with the danger.