Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti admitted he is “dreaming” of Champions League qualification, but said his side’s performances must improve to make that a reality.

games and briefly up to fourth in the Premier League – the last

Victory took Everton on to 46 points from 26 games and briefly up to fourth in the Premier League – the last Champions League qualifying spot – before Chelsea’s 1-0 win at Liverpool dropped Ancelotti’s side to fifth.

“At the start of the season no-one could say Everton, after 26 games, would be there,” said the Italian, who has won the Champions League as manager of AC Milan and Real Madrid.

“The dream is the Champions League – it would be fantastic to follow this dream. It’s a step in the career of everyone.

“We’re in the fight but you need to sacrifice until the end. There’s more pressure because we’re in the fight for Europe, we want to be there and we’ve worked really hard to be there.

“This is our step and our target. We have to step up a bit, there’s more to sacrifice.

“If I look at the table I’m really happy because the position is good but it’s not the end of the season and we have to fight.”

West Brom had been the better team in the first half at The Hawthorns but England keeper Jordan Pickford made an excellent save to keep out Mbaye Diagne’s second-minute header.

Diagne thought he had grabbed a 93rd-minute equaliser when he controlled a pass and shot into the net, but he was denied because he was narrowly offside, with the video assistant referee (VAR) confirming the on-field decision.

West Brom are 19th, in the relegation zone and nine points behind 17th-placed Newcastle United, who they host on Sunday.

Ancelotti’s Everton continue to get results

Everton have been English champions on nine occasions but since the launch of the Premier League for the 1992-93 season, have only finished in the top four once – in 2004-05.

Indeed, they have never played in the group stage of the Champions League, missing out in 2005-06 after a 4-2 aggregate loss to Spanish side Villarreal in the third qualifying round.

However, with 12 league games to go, Ancelotti’s team have a great chance to be playing alongside the continent’s elite next season.

Thursday’s win continues a remarkable turnaround for the Toffees, who were in the Premier League relegation zone under Marco Silva in December 2019, before he was sacked and caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson lifted them out of the bottom three, with Ancelotti then continuing that progress.

Instrumental in Everton’s revival has been Dominic Calvert-Lewin and the England striker, who scored a hat-trick in the Toffees’ 5-2 win over West Brom at Goodison Park in September, had their best chance of the first half.

A fortunate deflection took the ball into his path but he shot against goalkeeper Sam Johnstone’s legs from 12 yards with only the keeper to beat.

Richarlison also had a first-half chance but a superb challenge from Darnell Furlong denied the Brazilian, as the deflection took the shot narrowly over the top.

But the forward was not to be denied later on when he got in front of Johnstone to meet Sigurdsson’s cross from the left and powerfully head home from close range.

The result also continues Everton’s fine away record – they have now won nine of 13 league games on the road this season.

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