LIVERPOOL (AFP) - Venezuelan striker Salomon Rondon scored a potentially priceless goal as West Bromwich Albion eased their Premier League relegation concerns with a hard-earned 1-0 victory at Everton on Saturday.
West Brom struck early, and completely against not only the run of play but also the form-book, with a set-piece goal from their very first attack in the 14th minute.
Stephane Sessegnon's left-wing corner found Jonas Olsson at the near-post, his header looped towards the far corner and Rondon helped the ball over the line with his chest from point-blank range.
His goal left Tony Pulis's side eight points above the bottom three.
Everton, and in particular right winger Aaron Lennon, had made a strong start and would continue in that vein throughout a first half in which Roberto Martinez must have wondered how his team did not produce an equaliser.
In the space of two minutes towards the end of the opening period, the hosts twice hit the same West Brom post.
After 37 minutes, Albion failed to clear a home attack on the edge of their area and Ross Barkley curled an accurate shot beyond goalkeeper Ben Foster, only to see the woodwork deny him a goal.
Moments later, Foster was again well beaten, this time from Tom Cleverley's cross-shot from the left, which drifted over his head and appeared destined for the back of the net until it hit the upright.
Everton's frustrations were compounded by West Brom seeking to waste time, almost from the moment they took the lead, with referee Michael Oliver talking to Foster about precisely that before half an hour had passed.
But Pulis's team could feel satisfied at their defensive display in that opening 45 minutes even if, aside from a Rondon shot into the side-netting, they failed to create any other chances.
Seamus Coleman flicked a header just wide from Romelu Lukaku's driven shot, Barkley saw an effort deflected behind and a Lennon effort deviated awkwardly off James Chester and had to be pushed over the crossbar by Foster.
Defender Ramiro Funes Mori almost levelled, from one of the home team's eight first-half corners, with a shot into the side-netting, while Gareth Barry ended the half with a header that just missed the target.
By five minutes into the second half, Oliver had seen enough of the visitors' time-wasting, booking veteran Darren Fletcher, and soon added the name of James McClean for a foul that stopped a Coleman-led break.
McClean might have been sent off three minutes later for a cynical trip on Lennon, prompting Pulis to substitute him.
Meanwhile, Barry maintained the pressure on the visitors with a shot that rose over from the edge of the area.
McClean's replacement, Chris Brunt, almost scored from his first involvement, on a rare West Brom sortie, as he collected Rondon's pass and placed a shot just beyond the far post.
But there were fewer chances for the hosts in the second half and more frustration, with West Brom goalkeeper Foster another player cautioned for time-wasting.
Martinez's decision to take off Lennon added to that frustration and was met with disapproval from the home supporters, although the winger had been less menacing in the second period.
His replacement Gerard Deulofeu almost made a quick impact as his right-wing cross was helped back by Bryan Oviedo for Barry, whose eight-yard attempt was blocked.
Everton, 10th, have now lost six times at home this season and trail the European places by six points.