Everton’s three-match winning streak was halted at Fulham as second-half goals from Tom Cairney and Ryan Babel condemned Marco Silva’s side to their second defeat in seven games.
Everton remain ninth, one point behind Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City immediately above them.
Jordan Pickford was beaten for the first time in 277 minutes of Premier League action when midfielder Cairney struck 60 seconds after the restart.
It was Babel, though, who made all the running, the winger speedily progressing down the left but retaining sufficient composure to look up and pick out his advancing captain.
Cairney did not need to break stride, the Scotsman stroking his left-footed finish past Pickford and into the goalkeeper's bottom-right corner.
Babel added Fulham’s second with 21 minutes remaining.
Aleksandar Mitrovic, who had spent the opening period launching a one-man assault on Everton’s goal, stood firm on halfway, holding up play, then releasing Babel through the middle.
Babel hared 30 yards to reach the box where he slowed up as Pickford rushed out to narrow the angle. The Fulham player waited for Pickford’s dive and lifted the ball over the 'keeper for 2-0.
Mitrovic had already tried his luck twice before Everton pieced together their first attack of note, Andre Gomes selling a dummy to Calum Chambers and hammering in a cross which narrowly evaded the advancing Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
It was a similar story for Calvert-Lewin on the stroke of half-time, the striker hurling himself at a cross sent in by Seamus Coleman but coming up short in his all-out attempt to make contact.
Gomes had Everton’s most lusty effort at goal before half-time and the Portuguese’s blast came at the end of the brightest passage of play constructed by the visitors.
Richarlison started it, gliding in from the right on 20 minutes and striking a glorious pass with the outside of his right boot for Lucas Digne, galloping down the left.
Frenchman Digne's delivery was cleared as far as Gomes, who skilfully manufactured the shooting opportunity but saw it land in defender Maxime Le Marchand’s midriff.
There was a sense the tide was turning next to the Thames 60 seconds later when Bernard skipped through the middle, executed a neat stepover and gave Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico his first test of the afternoon, albeit one he’d have been crestfallen to fail.
To Mitrovic, then. He flung his head into his hands after curling a shot against the meat of the crossbar three minutes before the break.
The former Newcastle player’s sense of frustration had as much to do with everything which preceded that episode, as the near miss itself.
Minute three and he was rifling over from distance. On five minutes Pickford saved a low shot from Mitrovic and the 'keeper repeated the trick seven minutes later when, under pressure from Phil Jagielka, the Fulham forward got away another goalbound effort.
On 21 minutes, Pickford had to work much harder to deny Mitrovic. The Serb’s header from Babel’s corner was destined to nestle under Pickford’s crossbar until the England man flung up two strong hands to turn over.
Mitrovic again at the next corner, rising but seeing his header deflected behind off Calvert-Leiwn.
Pickford smothered at the feet of Joe Bryan following Babel’s cute through ball and Coleman was smartly positioned to divert Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s low delivery after an explosive run into the box.
Cairney’s accomplished finish immediately after the interval brought a response from manager Silva’s team.
Calvert-Lewin had already been whistled for a foul on Rico when Gylfi Sigurdsson struck home a loose ball.
Idrissa Gana Gueye was then too high with a 20-yard strike after Everton had progressed upfield via a succession of sharp incisive passes – and with referee Lee Probert waving on play after Richarlison was clattered by Le Marchand.
Everton were steadily cranking it up now. Sigurdsson executed a sublime reverse pass, somehow sighting Calvert-Lewin’s offside-beating run despite facing away from goal.
Calvert-Lewin, one on one with Rico, toe-poked at goal, defeating the ‘keeper but not the right post.
The next opportunity fell the way of Fulham and Babel – and left Everton with 21 minutes to retrieve a two-goal deficit.
Ademola Lookman, on for Sigurdsson, was close to latching onto a clever Bernard pass and Gomes was off target with a 25 yarder.
Rico flapped at a few high balls without paying too high a price. And another Everton substitute, Cenk Tosun – sent on with Theo Walcott, as Silva made his final roll of the dice and removed Richarlison and Bernard – lifted a half-volley over the top from penalty spot.
Lookman was crowded out as he surged onto Tosun's layoff deep into eight minutes of stoppage time, leaving Everton an eight-day wait until the visit to Goodison Park of Manchester United for their first chance to return to the winning trail.