Everton v Burnley
Good things come to those who wait.
For a long time it looked as though Everton would be frustrated by 10-man Burnley in this one but, on a day when Phil Neville made his first appearance since injuring a knee in September, strikes from James Vaughan and Steven Pienaar in the last eight minutes secured a win David Moyes' men so richly deserved.
For Vaughan it was a first goal in two years and one which finally ended the resolve of a side who seemed content to defend in numbers long before Stephen Jordan recieved his marching orders on the hour mark for a second bookable offence.
Moyes was forced to make one change to the side which drew 1-1 at Sunderland on Boxing Day as Louis Saha was ruled out late on with a hamstring problem.
Yakubu came in as the lone forward and almost teed up an opener within two minutes, the Nigerian stretching to pull the ball back for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov who got his feet in a tangle, causing the chance to fade.
Three minutes later Yakubu thought he had earned a penalty after Michael Duff appeared to handle his goalbound shot but referee Howard Webb waved away his protests.
Duff was again given the benefit of the doubt shortly after when Yakubu went down under his challenge inside the box, a decision which again riled the Nigerian. Everton were clearly the brighter team and Yakubu, who volleyed against the post midway through the half, continued to be at the heart of every move.
Bilyaletdinov was also enjoying himself down the right and capitalised on a superb mazy run from Steven Pienaar by cutting inside Jordan to go one-on-one with Brian Jensen. Side-stepping to open up his body the winger tried to bend his shot around the Dane, only to see the keeper fling himself and palm the ball to safety.
The Blues continued to jack up the pressure but while slick football created half-chances for Yakubu, Tim Cahill and John Heitinga, Burnley's net remained unbreached at the interval.
After a subdued start to the second half there were chances at either end in quick succession. Kevin McDonald bent his effort wide for the visitors while Heitinga's drilled free-kick deflected off the wall but safely into the hands of Jensen.
Another free-kick, this time from Baines, was wasted into the wall before David Nugent, a boyhood Evertonian, smashed against the upright from a tight angle.
Neville then made his return to rapturous applause and within seconds Jordan was heading the other way, picking up his second booking for dragging back Pienaar.
The defender was almost made to pay a greater price as Baines' resulting free-kick found Fellaini unmarked in the box. The Belgian was stretching however and again Jensen was well-positioned to save.
Baines and Bilyaletdinov both saw goalbound efforts blocked and Fellaini volleyed another into the ground and over the bar as Burnley, playing with everybody but Steven Fletcher behind the ball, continued to frustrate.
But, with nine minutes remaining Moyes threw on Vaughan for Bilyaletdinov, and the impact was immediate.
Pienaar teed up Fellaini who drove low across the box. Yakubu missed it but with Christian Kalvenes unable to clear, Vaughan composed himself to hook the ball between keeper and post. It was the first time the youngster had registered since the 3-2 win over AZ Alkmaar in December 2007.
The weight finally lifted, Pienaar made sure of all three points in the final minute, latching on to Yakubu's pass and thundering past Jensen from eight yards.