Under-pressure Everton manager Ronald Koeman said he hoped his struggling side had gained “a little bit of confidence” after Wayne Rooney’s 90th-minute penalty earned them a 1-1 draw at Brighton.
The Toffees, who spent £140m on new players in the summer, have won just two of their opening eight league games this season.
And they produced another lacklustre display at the Amex Stadium, with home goalkeeper Mat Ryan only seriously tested in the dying seconds of the match.
“We know we can play better but the commitment and belief was really positive,” said Koeman.
“Maybe it’s only one point, but it is a different picture. We at least deserved one point.”
Brighton looked set to secure their third successive home league win when Anthony Knockaert slotted home in the 82nd minute after Jose Izquierdo’s shot was blocked by Michael Keane.
But, with the clock ticking down, Seagulls defender Bruno elbowed Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the area as a free-kick was floated in.
Rooney sent Ryan the wrong way with his spot-kick, but the Australian rescued his side when he twice saved from substitute Kevin Mirallas in the closing seconds.
Koeman praised Rooney for keeping his composure.
He said: “Taking penalties is not the most difficult job but, at that moment, if your team needs points and you keep calm then that is experience and that is world-class.”
Everton needed a bit of luck – Koeman
Were it not for Bruno’s late indiscretion, it is likely Everton would have fallen to their fifth league defeat of the season.
Bar an effort from Nikola Vlasic and a firm angled strike by Mason Holgate, they did little to cause panic in Brighton’s organised and lusty backline, once again led admirably by Lewis Dunk.
The visitors did come close to snatching all three points in the final seconds, but that would have been akin to paint covering damp.
Rooney was largely impotent up front and £45m signing Gylfi Sigurdsson once again looked off-key – he had one effort on goal, a 20-yard free-kick which, uncharacteristically, flew very wide.
Despite their summer outlay, Everton have scored only seven goals in their past 13 league matches under Koeman, and more pertinently have only won twice.
The Toffees, who move up one place to 16th, next host Arsenal in the league.
Brighton were hosting an Everton side lacking in confidence, but nevertheless one expected to beat them.
So it says much about the Seagulls that they will be disappointed not to have won.
And had it not been for the heroics of Keane, they might have achieved that feat. The ex-Burnley player made an outstanding block to deny Dunk in the first half, and threw himself in front of a Knockaert drive moments before Brighton scored.
Like their opponents, Chris Hughton’s side also have eight points from eight games, but they are 14th – above the Toffees and West Ham on goal difference.
The award could have gone to any of the Brighton backline, but Anthony Knockaert deserves it – the French attacking midfielder scored and could have had another
‘We deserved at least point’ – the reaction
Hughton disappointed with Everton draw
Brighton manager Chris Hughton: “To concede so late, it’s even more disappointing. We were the side more likely to score and that we did. I just felt in general play, even with their quality, they wouldn’t carve us open.
“If you don’t put chances away then what happened can happen. We learned that the first game of the season and that was again the case.
“In credit to Bruno, he has had a lot of aerial duels in that second half and generally used his body well. He looked at another opportunity to impede him a little bit, but the referee was right there.
“Generally because there was a little bit of pushing, the referee was on his case more than he may have been.
“We have been in every game and are going to have to play at a certain level – if you play below that you’ll get beat. For large parts of the season we have been.”
Everton boss Ronald Koeman: “Of course, in this situation that the team is, you need a little bit of luck.
“The first 30 minutes we dominated and the second half, more difficult. It was really difficult to bring them down and they got the goal.
“I’m proud of the players for what we showed after that. We had the belief to get at least one point, and maybe we deserved another two.
“The first goal was defensively sloppy. You need to stay on your feet. You can’t go down easily.
“We lost a little bit of control after one or two mistakes in our ball possession. One way to come out of this difficult situation is working hard. To show the belief and commitment of the players.”