LONDON, April 17, 2010 (AFP) - Australia star Tim Cahill's late goal gave Everton a 3-2 win over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park here on Saturday which kept his side in the hunt for European football next season.
Cahill scored in the 90th minute adding to goals for the visitors from Mikel Arteta and Ayegbeni Yakubu after Blackburn had pegged them back twice through Steven Nzonzi and Jason Roberts.
Victory kept Everton eighth in the Premier League and in sight of a spot in next term's Europa League.
Rovers thought they had secured a point when Roberts volleyed in after taking a looping pass from Nikola Kalinic in the 81st minute to make it 2-2.
Roberts's goal came just three minutes after Yakubu made it 2-1 for Everton.
Yakubu came on for defender Tony Hibbert in the 78th minute and, seconds later, collected a header from fellow substitute Victor Anichebe to head past Paul Robinson.
Everton had the early lead through Arteta, who ended Blackburn's three-match run of clean sheets with a penalty in just the fourth minute.
But Blackburn levelled in the 69th minute through Nzonzi, who scored only his second goal of the season with a spectacular long-range curling shot in an absorbing game between two of the founding members of the Football League who first met in 1888.
Playing his first match after nearly a month out injured, Arteta was tripped in the box in the fourth minute by Blackburn captain Ryan Nelsen and referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot.
It was Arteta's fifth goal in as many games - this was his first match since scoring in the 2-0 win over Manchester City on April 24 after missing three fixtures with a groin injury.
Arteta was also the centre of attention for the wrong reasons when he poked his finger into Morten Gamst Pedersen's cheek, then eye when the two squared off after the Blackburn midfielder had tackled Arteta to concede a 20th minute free-kick.
The Everton midfielder was lucky to avoid being sent off - instead he was shown a yellow card by Marriner, as was Pedersen.
Blackburn missed the chance to level in the 12th minute, against the run of play, when Cahill cleared a shot from Nikola Kalinic off the line and, in the resultant confusion, Tim Howard saved from Nelsen.
Pedersen also sent a free kick wide and had the resultant corner saved as Blackburn grew in confidence.
But Everton hit back after the break and went close when Leighton Baines's powerful, 69th minute, shot bounced off the post before Blackburn caught the Toffees napping and the game sprang into life.
Everton's victory condemned Blackburn to a first home league defeat since December and continued an impressive revival for the Merseysdiers, who were just two points above the relegation zone before Christmas.
Their lack of attacking bite led Everton to draws in their last three games. against Aston Villa, West Ham and Wolves. However, Arteta's return seems to have changed that.