Both sides had a number of chances in what was an enthralling end-to-end contest, but Everton secured all the points late on when Sunderland centre-back Wes Brown turned a Gerard Deulofeu cross into his own net from close range.
Here, Sports Mole dissects the 90 minutes of action between the two Premier League rivals.
On target: 7
On target: 3
Was the result fair?
In short, no. Everton entered the match in a stunning run of form, but never really hit top gear against a Sunderland side that was full of energy. However, despite a number of opportunities, the home team really struggled to produce real quality in the final third, which cost them the chance to take something from the match. That said, Everton also struggled for long periods in attacking areas, with a point apiece probably a fair reflection of events at the Stadium of Light. However, ultimately, it is another defeat for Sunderland, who remain rooted to the bottom of the table. What's more, their afternoon was made worse due to the results of the teams around them.
History will show another defeat for Sunderland this afternoon, but that does not tell the full story. The Black Cats arguably put in their best performance in recent months against an Everton side that was full of confidence. Connor Wickham provided a target in the final third, while Fabio Borini and Adam Johnson were both bright in forward areas. That said, too often their final ball lacked the required quality at this level of football. It is also difficult to be too critical of their defence, with John O'Shea and Wes Brown solid for long spells. However, it is results and not performances that count at this stage of the season and it is now extremely difficult to see Gus Poyet's side remaining in the division, even with two games in hand over the majority of the teams around them.
The Toffees entered the match on the back of a 3-0 win over Arsenal last weekend, which was arguably their best showing of the entire season. However, it just did not happen this afternoon. Winning when not playing well is not a bad trait to have, however, with another three points moving Everton above Arsenal and into fourth. Their attacking players were not quite at the races, but their defensive solidarity once more gave them a strong base to build from. Everton have now taken 66 points from their 33 league games this season, which is their highest points total in a single Premier League campaign. The Champions League is certainly not beyond Roberto Martinez's side, who have made serious strides forward this season.
Sports Mole's man of the match
John Stones: It was another terrific performance from Everton centre-back John Stones, who has flourished in the absence of Phil Jagielka. The 19-year-old won the majority of his aerial battles against the physical Sunderland attack, while he was also calm and composed in possession of the ball. The England Under-21 international has gained high praise for his displays in recent weeks and it was another top-drawer showing at the Stadium of Light from the teenager.
Everton might have picked up all three points this afternoon, but Steven Naismith has guilty of missing two golden chances. Firstly, the Scotland international fired high and wide of the crossbar after finding some space inside the Sunderland box, before clipping wide of the post in the second period when Sunderland stopper Vito Mannone had departed his goal. The forward has been in fine form in recent weeks, but sloppy finishing almost cost his side this afternoon.
It was a fairly busy afternoon for referee Lee Probert, who awarded five bookings during what was a pulsating contest. However, the fact that the match was such an open and end-to-end affair means that Probert should be credited, with the official prepared to let the play flow rather than halt proceedings for every slight challenge. For long spells Probert was not seen, which is always a good sign for a referee.
Sunderland: It does not get any easier for Poyet as he takes his side to title hopefuls Manchester City on Wednesday.
Everton: Everton will attempt to consolidate fourth position in the Premier League when they welcome in-form Crystal Palace to Goodison Park on Wednesday.