LONDON (REUTERS) - Relegated Fulham dealt Everton's hopes of Europa League action next season a heavy blow at Craven Cottage on Saturday (April 13) as they beat their visitors 2-0 with goals from captain Tom Cairney and Ryan Babel.
After an action-packed but goalless first half, Cairney broke the deadlock just after the restart when Babel raced down the left and into the area before cutting the ball back to him.
Cairney, one of the Cottagers' promotion-winning heroes last season, lashed his first Premier League goal in low past Everton keeper Jordan Pickford, putting his side on track for only their fifth win of an otherwise miserable campaign in the top flight.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin missed levelling affairs by the narrowest of margins 10 minutes later when his curled shot beat Sergio Rico in the Fulham goal but bounced off the post and away.
But Babel sealed the win for Fulham in the 69th minute, taking off on a solo run from the halfway line before coolly chipping the ball over Pickford.
Everton's loss means they stay ninth on 46 points. The Merseysiders have been climbing back into contention for Europa League action next season with their recent run of strong results, but need to reach seventh place to secure that.
"We expected a tough match. We didn't perform, and we were unbalanced on the pitch. It was a bad day for us," Everton boss Marco Silva told reporters after the match.
He said the repeated breaks in the second half for injuries and medical treatment, that led to eight minutes of added time being played at the end of the game, had broken up play and prevented his side from finding their rhythm.
Fulham's win leaves the already-relegated Londoners second from bottom on 20 points. Their first victory under caretaker manager Scott Parker was also their first win over Everton in their last 11 meetings in the Premier League era.
"I thought we were superb from start to finish," Parker told reporters.
"The result is the by-product of all the work we've done in the last nine days. The fans have not had a lot to shout about recently, but I like to think the result today eases that a bit. Craven Cottage was alive," he said.
"We showed some real fight and determination."