With both teams separated by just one point and one place in the table, any attempt to play down the magnitude of this game would have been futile.
Therefore all Sean Dyche asked for before kick-off was that his players “put a performance out there on the pitch”. He certainly got that.
Despite the pressure, Everton produced a dominant display against a league rival that was full of energy and character.
They hit 15 shots in the game, six of which were on target. The visitors failed to muster even one on Jordan Pickford’s goal in response. Yet, it took a moment of brilliance from Seamus Coleman to hand the Blues the win they deserved.
With just over 25 minutes remaining, he struck an excellent shot from an acute angle to grab his first league goal since he netted the opener against the same opponent here at Goodison Park 12 months ago.
That strike also means the Blues are remarkably unbeaten in all 28 games that the Republic of Ireland star has found the back of the net.
It was a game that started tentatively, with both sides seemingly feeling the pressure of what was at stake in the contest.
Onana had the Blues’ first sight of goal when broke free inside the Leeds half with five minutes on the clock, but his effort was a tame one that went well wide.
As the game approached the quarter-hour mark, there were signs that the home side were just starting to settle into the fixture though, with Gana, Doucoure and Onana all linking regularly and winning the crucial midfield battle.
Everton's increased pressure nearly paid off soon after when Illan Meslier came out to collect a cross but spilt the ball on the edge of his own box.
McNeil was presented the chance to fire an effort towards goal but in a congested penalty box, he opted to feed Onana who was closed down quickly before the Leeds defence manage to scramble the danger away.
Ten minutes later it was the Belgian midfielder who was in the thick of the goalmouth action again. Gana produced a great piece of skill down the right to break into the penalty area before firing a low cross into the path of Onana. However, he struck his shot just over the bar.
Everton started to move up the gears and the opening goal so nearly came when from a corner just after the half hour mark. Tarkowski's knock down found Conor Coady who flicked on a header that was cleared off the line.
Seconds later Maupay did exactly the same as the away side started to buckle under the pressure.
The next in a flurry of chances fell Tarkowski’s way. In what was almost a carbon copy of the winner against Arsenal, the defender rose highest at the back post, but unlike in that clash against the Gunners, his headed effort was pushed wide for a corner.
The half finished with the Blues having registered seven shots, three of which found the target, while the visitors managed zero.
Everton’s task in the second half was converting that dominance into a crucial match opener, and they started in the right manner. McNeil met a cross just minutes into the half but just dragged his volley wide.
The Blues continued to dominate the contest and put pressure on the Leeds backline. Great play from McNeil led to a sweeping pass out to Mykolenko bombing on down the left. He fired a ball into the feet of Maupay who turned and shot but it was straight down the throat of Meslier.
As the game entered the final 30 minutes, Everton were really turning the screw and finally, they got their reward thanks to a moment of brilliance from Coleman.
In what was his 401st appearance for the Club, the Everton captain sprinted from deep to meet an Iwobi pass. Then, from the tightest of angles down the right, struck a scintillating shot.
Meslier, who rushed out seemingly gambling on the ball being crossed, was left bamboozled as the intelligent shot flew past his near post and put Everton ahead.
The Blues stood tall defensively as Leeds tried to muster a response but rarely was Pickford’s goal threatened.
In the final ten minutes, Ellis Simms came onto replace Maupay who’d put in an excellent selfless shift leading the Everton attack.
As we entered the final minutes, there was no dogged frantic defending from the home side. Instead, it was Everton who looked the most likely to extend their lead and finished with a flurry chances, the best coming Tom Davies’ way.
The second goal never came but it didn’t matter as Goodison Park erupted at the final whistle.