Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter said his team lacked quality after their 1-0 loss to an impressive Everton
A fine first half strike from Richarlison was enough to seal a win for Carlo Ancelotti's team despite a late fightback from Albion.
Substitute Glenn Murray forced a good save from Jordan Pickford and then in the dying moments the veteran striker, linked with a January move away from Albion, was so close to a leveller but his out-stretched effort dropped just the wrong side of the post.
"We tried, we put a lot into the game," said Potter, who set his team up with a strange defensive formation with Lewis Dunk looking very uncomfortable on the left side of the defence.
"The effort was there and we hit the bar but we didn't do enough to get that goal. The difference was a great finish and we were not able to execute that today.
"We stepped up in the second half, I thought we were a bit better. You want to come away with something but we haven't and we have to dust ourselves off. At 1-0 they're happy to hang on with that.
"You have to take the positives, it wasn't all bad but if you don't get points you have to do better. We have to be at our maximum - effort wise today we were there but we lacked the quality."
Early in the first half Theo Walcott got the wrong side of Dunk and was clipped by the Albion defender as he went to shoot. VAR deemed it not a penalty.
"I didn't feel it was clear and obvious," Potter added. "But until it's all done you never know with VAR."
The defeat puts Albion 14th in the Premier League table on 24 points from 22 matches. They are just four points above the drop zone but third from bottom Bournemouth have a match in hand. The win lifts Everton up to 11th
"Quite happy," Ancelotti said. "For 60 minutes the performance was good, at the end it was normal to suffer a little bit at 1-0 up. We suffered but we were determined to have three points at the end and this is the most important thing.
"The response of the players was good. The support of the stadium is really important for us. When we play here we want to feel at home and I hope the next game will be the same because it is really important."
On Theo Walcott's penalty appeal: "I think it was a penalty, I'm surprised, I think he tried to score and didn't fall down.
"Usually if he falls it is a penalty I don't know. The work of the referee is not easy but maybe with VAR it could be more simple. It was a fantastic goal from Richarlison. He has fantastic qualities. He can play everywhere."