Nikica Jelavic continued his impressive form in English football but his brace was not enough to see Everton topple a determined Norwich City side in an enthralling encounter.
Nikica Jelavic put Everton ahead with a clever backheel before Jonny Howson equalised just before half-time with his first goal for the Canaries. Jelavic added his fourth goal in four games to make it 2-1 in controversial circumstances after Norwich thought they should have had a free-kick, but the home crowd breathed a sigh of relief when Holt swept home his 13th Premier League goal of the season with 14 minutes to go.
Paul Lambert praised both sides for their part in one of the best games he had seen at Carrow Road. “I couldn´t fault my team. I won´t believe we´re safe until somebody tells me it´s over,” the Norwich manager said of reaching 40 points.
David Moyes, the Everton manager, praised Jelavic´s goal instinct and said: “I´m a bit disappointed that after going ahead twice we did not see it out. Overall I´m pleased with the way we are going.”
Holt, who was in and out of the promoted side´s starting XI early in the season, was a constant threat to the Everton defence and remains the second-highest English goalscorer in the Premier League, behind Wayne Rooney.
Everton, who were searching for a third straight win, started brightly and went ahead when Leighton Baines burst down the left and found Phil Jagielka, who crossed for Jelavic to flick home.
Everton almost went 2-0 up moments later when Tony Hibbert´s cross struck the woodwork, and the visitors´ robust defence prevented them from fashioning any serious attempt on goal until the 39th minute when Howson â€“ who was later likened by Lambert to Barcelona´s AndrÃ©s Iniesta â€“ equalised.
Adam Drury released Wes Hoolahan down the left flank and he cut inside and squared to the former Leeds man, who slotted home from six yards.
Norwich went behind again amid furious scenes on the hour. Steven Pienaar went down under a challenge and held the ball between his legs. Norwich appealed for a foul but Andre Marriner´s whistle stayed silent. Marouane Fellaini picked up the ball and Pienaar´s cross was converted by Jelavic from close range.
But Norwich levelled after 76 minutes when Tim Howard spilled Aaron Wilbraham´s shot back into the path of the Canaries forward and he squared to Holt to score.