Everton fell victim to a Sheffield United smash-and-grab raid as a goal in either half consigned the Blues to a first Goodison Park defeat in eight matches.
The unfortunate Yerry Mina deflected a corner into his own net five minutes before the interval to give the hitherto under-the-pump visitors something to cling to.
Marco Silva had made three attacking changes and Goodison was bracing itself for a grandstand finish when Lys Mousset escaped on the counter to all but wrap up his team’s victory on 79 minutes - and send Everton to a home loss for the first time since 6 February.
If Everton didn’t pepper Sheffield United’s goal in the opening half then they certainly had a fair number of efforts.
Ten of them to be precise. The visitors for their part reached the interval without aiming anything at goal – literally nothing, the Blades did not try to score once.
That was nothing to do with their gameplan because Sheffield United are an ambitious side under Chris Wilder and used to winning matches after a lightning climb from League One.
Everton were keeping their visitors penned back under a weight of home possession – 67 per cent in the first 45 minutes.
When the Blades did break and win their first corner on 40 minutes they made it count. With a bit of help.
Oliver Norwood swung in the left-wing set-piece. Jordan Pickford came from his line to punch but was jolted by the body in front of him – the goal was subject to a lengthy VAR check.
Mina was unsighted, perhaps right the way through this episode, and luckless. The ball hit the Colombian’s back and dribbled over the line.
Everton played some good football early in the match.
Richarlison persisted to get past Chris Basham at the second time of asking following smart approach work from Morgan Schneiderlin and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Forward Richarlison advanced into the box, burrowing to the left before checking onto his right foot and shooting past the far post.
Bernard started a direct move on the half hour.
The Brazilian, back in the side here after missing out in Everton’s past two matches, got on his bike after clipping a ball for Mina at the back stick but checked his run at the edge of the box.
Mina climbed and nodded down for Sigurdsson, who located Richarlison’s eight yards out. The attacker had to twist his body to connect, however, and sent an overhead kick racing over the top.
Everton were utilising their full-backs with characteristic regularity – Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman had a combined 95 touches in the opening period – while retaining some variety in a bid to unlock their immaculately-drilled opponents.
Richarlison’s drive through the heart of the field ushered Digne into the box where he was smothered by John Egan 60 seconds before Bernard’s acrobatic effort.
On 17 minutes Digne had drawn a sharp stop from Dean Henderson.
Everton advanced down the right on that occasion with Seamus Coleman serving up the cross.
Bernard’s cushioned touch was marginally off-beam for intended target Sigurdsson. The midfielder rescued possession and supplied the onrushing Digne for a crisp effort.
Left-back Digne was into the wall with a free-kick on the stroke of half-time after Everton had reacted to going one down with Moise Kean’s surge and cross for Richarlison.
Sheffield United's polished goalkeeper Henderson dealt with the South American’s header down to his right.
Marco Silva waited nine minutes after the restart for a double switch of personnel and corresponding change of shape.
Cenk Tosun came on for Schneiderlin with a brief to join Kean up front – and in no time Kean was dashing behind following Richarlison’s scooped pass to draw a one-on-one stop from Henderson.
Alex Iwobi for Bernard on the left was a straight swap – this shuffle completed by Sigurdsson dropping to play beside Fabian Delph.
Sigurdsson skewed wide after Digne exploded into the box from the right following a short-corner routine as Everton were restricted to scraps around the box.
Manager Silva made his final play with the removal of Coleman in favour of Theo Walcott.
And Everton continued to pour forwards.
Silva’s side was creating openings but nothing which would qualify as gilt-edged.
Sheffield United’s defenders – including Phil Jagielka after the former Everton skipper replaced Oliver Norwood with 26 minutes to play – threw their bodies in the way of shots and denied the home team’s attackers any space.
Egan hurled himself in front of Kean’s strike after the forward fastened onto Iwobi’s weighted pass.
Tosun was first to the rebound but thwarted by Basham in similar fashion.
With Everton committing more bodies to their hunt for an equaliser, they were vulnerable to the sucker punch at the other end.
It was dealt by Mousset.
He sprinted onto John Lundstram’s ball down the right, eased into the penalty area and slotted a neat finish between Pickford’s legs.
Mousset’s strike represented only Sheffield United’s second effort of the day, 13 fewer than Everton.
It was the visitors’ final attempt, too. Not that they would have cared.