Everton produced a late rally to score twice in three minutes and maintain their remarkable 11-year unbeaten record against Sunderland with a 2-1 win.
Black Cats winger Adam Johnson scored his first goal for the club on the stroke of half-time and for a long time it looked like giving his side their first league win over the Toffees in 16 matches.
However, Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic swung the game decisively in Everton's favour with goals in quick succession in the last 15 minutes to ensure manager David Moyes' 400th Premier League match ended in victory, keeping the Toffees in the top four.
Going into the weekend Everton were second only to defending champions Manchester City in terms of shots on target but they struggled to live up to that billing as it was Sunderland who posed all the early threats.
Jelavic had an early shout for penalty turned down after John O'Shea's challenge before the visitors had two chances to take the lead. Stephane Sessegnon shrugged off Seamus Coleman but should have done better as he closed in on goal but keeper Tim Howard saved.
Everton's response saw the lively Kevin Mirallas have a shot blocked by Danny Rose and Steven Pienaar denied by Simon Mignolet before the Toffees were dealt a blow when the former was forced off with a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Steven Naismith.
However, with virtually the last kick of the half Johnson struck with a neat volley. Sebastian Larsson's corner was only half headed clear by Jelavic and when Craig Gardner curled a cross towards the far side of the penalty area the England international pounced.
Johnson also found himself in the right position early in the second half as he cleared John Heitinga's header off the line. Substitute Apostolos Vellios, in his first appearance of the season after replacing Neville, headed at Mignolet but within minutes were ahead.
In the 76th minute Leon Osman slid the ball through to his midfield colleague on the edge of the penalty area and Fellaini turned before firing a low shot through a crowd of players, across Mignolet and into the far corner.
The same two players then combined again - Fellaini's cheeky backheel going through O'Shea's legs - to allow Jelavic to clip home a first-time shot and clinch a sixth successive Premier League home win against Sunderland.