Carlo Ancelotti is targeting a trio of victories to finish the Premier League campaign after Everton retained hopes of a top-six finish with a draw against Aston Villa on Thursday.
Everton created the clearest openings of a fast-paced match at Villa Park, steadily increasing pressure on the hosts’ goal after half-time.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin saw a header from close range kept out by Aston Villa’s excellent number one Emiliano Martinez with three minutes remaining.
Substitute Andre Gomes shot over from 18 yards and home defender Tyrone Mings intercepted with Calvert-Lewin poised to convert in stoppage-time.
Everton, who recorded their fourth straight away clean sheet, have successive home games, against Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, before finishing at Manchester City.
They are in eighth position, level on points with Tottenham Hotspur in seventh and two behind West Ham United.
“We tried to do everything to win, we had a good second half and pushed a lot of energy there,” said Ancelotti, whose side came to the Midlands four days after winning at West Ham.
“The first half was more in balance; the second, we created a lot of opportunities.
This video is for Season Ticket Holders, Official Members and 21/22 Hospitality Members
This content is available for free to Digital Members
Free Digital Membership will provide you with the best possible experience when logged into the website, including access to the latest digital content.
Digital members will receive a monthly newsletter and get access to exclusive videos and regular member competitions offering money can’t buy prizes.
Your Digital account will also enable you to buy any tickets on general sale, and if you’re an Official member or Season Ticket Holder, the same login will allow you to access and manage your ticketing account.
To view this content you need to be a Season Ticket Holder, Hospitality Member or Official Member.
DOUCOURE ON HIS EVERTON RETURN
“We had some shots from the penalty box where we were not lucky enough but I am satisfied with the performance.
“I think we did our best and we have three games, we are still in the fight and we must try to win the last three games.
“We had two away games and got four points. We’re still in the battle. We’ve got two home games. To be in Europe, I think we need to get nine points.”
Everton were rarely threatened by a Villa side that won at Goodison Park 11 days ago.
Jordan Pickford saved a menacing Anwar El Ghazi free-kick and Mings was wide with a very good headed opportunity.
Other than those episodes, it was the away team making the running, posting five shots on target to Villa’s two and noticeably pushing for the victory in the closing stages.
Ancelotti conceded his side were, perhaps, not precise enough in the final third.
But after collecting 37 points from 18 away games – winning 11 and drawing four – the Italian again had no cause for complaint over his players’ attitude and commitment.
Going back to Goodison, then, to face Sheffield United on Sunday, following a profitable week on the road, the Everton manager is urging his side to grab a European opportunity that remains very much alive.
"The performance was good, we were good defensively and didn’t give them a lot of opportunities," continued Ancelotti.
"We had some opportunities to score goals, some shots from distance… the performance was good.
"We've had two difficult away games and got four points.
“Of course, we would like six points but we are still in the fight for Europe.
"We were much better in the second half and put more pressure offensively. I think they went a little bit down physically and we had more control of the game.
"We could have been more efficient [in the attacking third].
“Maybe we weren't so fresh with the final decision.
“We didn't win but nothing has changed. We have three games to play – maybe we need three victories but we will try to do it.
"It's a point. We moved up the table and now we have this great opportunity with two games at home where we hope to get six points."