EVERTON continue to make a sustained run towards European recognition, Tim Cahill's sixth goal of the season stretching an unbeaten run to nine games after they had overcome a resolute Wigan in a keen encounter.
But their manager, David Moyes, is taking nothing for granted. "Europe remains a long shot, and after the start we made to this season we can't aim too high, too soon,'' he said. "We shall just have to see how the rest of the season develops."
However, they are on a high going into this week's Merseyside derby, although they were perhaps fortunate to survive an injury-time scare when a stunning effort from Charles N'Zogbia crunched against the crossbar to deny the home side parity. Wigan, it has to be said, were betrayed by their own wayward finishing, particularly in the first half when Everton enjoyed greater territorial advantage as well as the majority of possession.
The second half proved a more even contest, although Marouane Fellaini had a close-in effort ruled out for offside before Cahill struck six minutes from the end, heading in a Leighton Baines corner from the left.
Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, found it hard to hide his frustration. "I'm angry and frustrated and it is hard for the players to take in, conceding so late, but we can't keep giving away cheap goals from set plays. We need to do our job in these situations but on this occasion we didn't. We had chances but couldn't convert them."
The best of those chances came in the first half. Jason Scotland set up Hugo Rodallega, but Wigan's leading scorer shot against the body of goalkeeper Tim Howard. Then Rodallega turned provider for Scotland, who wretchedly shot over and then spurned two other half-chances.
For Everton, Louis Saha struck a post in the first half and saw a header saved spectacularly goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
In an equally eventful start to the second half, Wigan were aggrieved when what seemed a foul inside the penalty area by John Heitinga on N'Zogbia was ruled to have been a foot outside. Substitute Paul Scharner twice went close but Cahill's sixth goal of the season confirmed Everton's superiority in the end.