Article continues below
Roberto Martinez believes Everton's 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace demonstrated they are finally learning from the failings that have undermined so much of their season.
James McCarthy's dismissal, seven minutes into the second half after a second yellow card, left Everton with 10 men for a significant period of Wednesday's game but amid intense pressure, they remained resilient and earned what was ultimately an impressive point and clean sheet.
The results leaves them a disappointing 12th and on a total of 40 points with only six Barclays Premier League games to play, but given so many defensive lapses have ruined their pursuit of the top-six finish, Martinez was adamant their performance showed progress.
"That resilience we had to show," said the Spaniard, 42. "But that's not enough on its own, you need tactical awareness as well, and we showed that. We were very clear in what we wanted to do, and then it's about managing the game to allow us our threat as well.
"(Goalkeeper Joel) Robles had two or three moments of outstanding concentration and quality, but (Palace goalkeeper Wayne) Hennessey had to show exactly the same level.
"I'm very pleased, to keep a clean sheet and manage the game in that way is perfect timing. It's great to see we're learning from our hard lessons. Probably, the timing of this performance is perfect.
"It all matters in the final weeks of the campaign. We've lost too many points late on. It's now you want to hit your top level. You want to shine in the last few weeks of the season. We showed a solid approach."
Asked of McCarthy's red card, which came after two yellows - the first for a first-half foul on Yohan Cabaye and the second for a block on Yannick Bolasie - Martinez replied: "I thought James McCarthy was trying to stop Yannick Bolasie getting to the ball.
"Watching the replay, I was mistaken. I don't think it's a yellow card whatsoever. I think James McCarthy comes across to cover and stops, stands still, and the Crystal Palace player encourages the contact. I thought it was a very harsh second yellow card."
Manchester United's 2-1 win at West Ham earlier in the evening secured their progress to the semi-final of the FA Cup against Everton, and Martinez said: "To play a semi-final of the FA Cup against Manchester United at Wembley is as good as it gets. We'll enjoy it and will be ready.
"It's the same weekend 50 years ago that Colin Harvey became a hero by scoring the winning goal in the semi-final of the FA Cup. Maybe that's a sign of something to come, but it will be terrific to be able to have one of our players writing new history."
The point took Palace's total for the season to 38, leaving them in 16th, but though relegation remains a mathematical possibility and they next face Arsenal and Manchester United, manager Alan Pardew believes his team are safe.
"I don't think it's possible for the others to catch us now," he said. "Connor (Wickham, Palace's substitute) looked like a player who's been injured, and (Emmanuel) Adebayor did well when he came on. So there are positives."
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms