A seventh-minute goal from teenage forward Daniel Jebbison condemned Everton to a hurtful Goodison Park defeat by Sheffield United.
Jebbison tapped in from close range to load pressure on Everton who were aiming to breathe life into their home form and sustain a run at qualifying for European football.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side had chances to level, enough opportunities to win the game, in fact.
But they encountered a goalkeeper in tremendous form in Aaron Ramsdale.
Ramsdale made a very good save from Allan but reserved his best for an athletic double stop to resist Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin five minutes before half-time.
Ancelotti put on a midfielder for a defender for the second 45 minutes, replacing Mason Holgate with Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Everton pressed but Sheffield United, already relegated, played as if their lives depended on it.
And 17-year-old Jebbison finished as the matchwinner on his full Premier League debut.
Everton had conceded first in three out of four home matches since beating Southampton here on 1 March.
And they found themselves behind the eight ball following an early goal that was simple in both its execution and creation.
Jack Robinson dodged challenges inside the box, resisting the urge to go down following contact from Allan, to slide the ball across the six-yard box.
Jebbison had a straightforward task to turn it home and, to his evident glee, obliged.
Everton had James Rodriguez back in the side after three matches on the sidelines and most of the home side’s offensive play was directed through the silky Colombian.
When they went long in the final action of the opening half, Michael Keane drifting a ball over the top, Richarlison – being played onside by Chris Basham – tried to execute a difficult volley but was too high with the effort.
Until that point, Everton had probed but found clear openings difficult to come by.
James set up the best of them five minutes before half-time. Pulling out to the right flank, he collected possession, then dropped a lofted delivery into the centre for Richarlison.
The Brazilian launched himself at the ball but was denied by a fabulous stop from Ramsdale, clawing the ball out from the inside of his right post.
Ramsdale wasn’t done there. The England Under-21 keeper leapt to his feet, standing tall and using the upper part of his chest to repel Calvert-Lewin’s strike from six yards on the follow up.
Calvert-Lewin swung his right boot through the ball on 11 minutes but saw the effort deflected wide.
There was a pass from James that was too hot for Calvert-Lewin to handle in the box, another fractionally too far in front of the striker from Holgate.
Ramsdale got his gloves dirty for the first time soon after Calvert-Lewin’s first attempt.
James sent the corner to the near post where it was headed out by Oliver Norwood.
Allan collected the clearance on the 18-yard line, manoeuvring the ball onto the outside of his right boot for a shot that was bending inside Ramsdale’s right post before the full-stretch goalkeeper flung out his right hand to turn behind.
Twice in two minutes Everton felt they were hard done by.
On 24 minutes, Seamus Coleman ran into the box to collect a lofted pass. His control was good, the Everton captain prodding his second touch towards the middle. It didn’t get there because of Robinson’s outstretched left arm but referee Jon Moss was happy the defender’s hand was in a natural position.
Soon after, Basham slid across the sodden turf to challenge Lucas Digne.
The Everton full-back was caught high and in pain. Moss opted for a yellow card.
If this sounds as if Jordan Pickford was redundant in the opening half, he wasn’t.
There was a one-on-one stop to deny Jebbison a second goal after the teenager sprinted onto Holgate’s underhit backpass.
And when David McGoldrick’s blocked shot rebounded to John Fleck, 30 yards out, the strike was travelling on target at speed and needed a strong hand to repel.
Calvert-Lewin had one headed opportunity before the break, sneaking between Robinson and John Egan to meet Digne’s delivery but sending the attempt at Ramsdale.
James fashioned a sight of goal for himself, employing terrific chest control to gather Allan’s ball through the middle and dribbling forwards but frustrated by a defensive block that diverted the shot off target.
A change of either formation or personnel for the second half was inevitable.
Ancelotti chose to tweak both.
Sigurdsson came on for Holgate to fill the left flank that had been vacant for large parts of the opening 45 minutes.
Coleman went to right-back in an orthodox back-four and James moved permanently to the right.
Sigurdsson soon fed a ball through for Calvert-Lewin but Egan tracked his man and made the block.
Everton steadily took hold of possession, an even split giving way to a slant noticeably in the home side’s favour.
Sheffield United, however, with their four midfielders camped in front of five defenders, were in a shape to contain.
They sat off, aiming to nick the odd set-piece. Norwood’s free-kick from the left was nodded over by Egan.
A frustrated James went in the book for chasing back to illegally dispossess Basham, with Fleck’s resultant dead-ball from the left eventually cleared by Calvert-Lewin.
Everton were looking most likely when Sigurdsson had the ball at his feet. Richarlison advanced onto a clever pass from the midfielder but Ramsdale stopped a firm effort at his near post.
A good chance for McGoldrick immediately preceded Ancelotti’s final two changes.
The forward gathered Enda Stevens’ low delivery and spun for a shot that went wide off the thigh of Ben Godfrey.
Cue Bernard and Andre Gomes for James and Abdoulaye Doucoure, as Everton’s manager had his final roll of the dice.
Everton drove at Sheffield United, Egan and Baldock defending strongly in the box following a link-up between Bernard and Coleman down the right.
Godfrey headed over Ramsdale’s bar at the start of three minutes of stoppage time and that would prove Everton’s final opportunity to claim anything from a desperately disappointing night.