Sessegnon seals second straight win.
Sunderland made it back-to-back wins as they banked another priceless three points against Everton.
Head coach Paolo Di Canio ended the Black Cats' 13-year wait for a win over the Toffees thanks to a fine goal by Stephane Sessegnon just before half time.
The Beninese forward's goal capped a display bursting with passion, commitment and desire against an Everton side who were unbeaten in their previous five games.
The hosts flatly refused to yield and their commitment was summed up in the closing stages when an indirect free-kick for Everton 12 yards out was swamped by home players, with several getting blocks in to avert the danger.
Everton dangerman Marouane Fellaini was shackled brilliantly by Alfred N’Diaye, who is continuing to grow into his role on Wearside.
But it would be unfair to single out any one particular player on an afternoon when Di Canio’s team combined to outwork an Everton side enjoying an excellent season.
Sunderland went into the game on a high following the derby win over Newcastle and the momentum helped them through a competitive encounter.
Di Canio made one enforced change for his first home game in charge, handing Jack Colback a start in place of the injured Phil Bardsley at right-back.
Everton went into the game looking to close the gap on the qualification places for the Champions’ League and there were chances at either end early on.
Seb Larsson nodded down for Danny Graham in the opening minutes, but the stretching striker could only touch the ball into the arms of Tim Howard.
Fellaini then saw a header deflected wide before Larsson shaved the top of Howard's crossbar with a delicious free-kick from the left-hand edge of the box.
The chances dried up a little as a competitive clash unfolded in midfield, although Kevin Mirallas did eke out a yard of space to fire off a shot which was deflected wide.
But Larsson was a danger from set-pieces for the hosts and the Swede came close again with another fine effort just before the break, looping the ball over Howard but wide of the far post.
Larsson had another go soon afterwards, but Howard was equal to the task as he clawed another free-kick from the midfielder out of the top corner.
But the visitors' American keeper was beaten on the stroke of half time thanks to a fine strike from Sessegnon – his second in as many games and seventh of the season overall.
Leighton Baines' shoddy ball out of defence was telegraphed by Larsson, who quickly ushered in Sessegnon to fire a powerful shot under Howard from the edge of the box.
The keeper got a piece of the effort but couldn't prevent it finding the corner of the net to give Sunderland the lead.
The goal was just the boost the Black Cats needed, coming just before the break, and Di Canio's side started the second half brightly.
Danny Rose summed up their desire and commitment by winning a crunching 50-50 tackle with Leon Osman to open up a shooting chance, before clambering his feet to arrow a powerful shot narrowly off-target.
But Everton, who had taken 14 points from their previous seven games, responded just after the hour as half-time sub Nikica Jelavic assumed a good position to meet Baines' cross only to head weakly wide.
Then the striker got on a touch on a Fellaini shot with the redirection almost wrong-footing Simon Mignolet, who re-set himself well to block the awkwardly bobbling ball and then pounce on the rebound with Jelavic closing in.
Sunderland were forced to drop deeper and Everton sniffed an equaliser when a lofted Larsson backpass from way out looked set to sail over Mignolet's head, forcing the goalkeeper to catch the ball and concede an indirect free-kick 12 yards out, while also being given a yellow card.
Noted dead-ball specialist Baines stepped up – but Sunderland's blood-and-thunder attitude was summed up as almost the entire team stormed towards the ball to block the inbound effort and eventually clear their lines.
The crowd were on their feet, and the home faithful were almost celebrating a second goal with seven minutes to play as Adam Johnson burst through down the right to force a good save from Howard down low.
The closing minutes saw the visitors pushing on, but Sunderland held firm with shrill whistles ringing around the Stadium of Light.
And the final whistle sparked raucous celebrations amongst the near-45,000 crowd as Di Canio and his players celebrated another vital three points.
- Yellow Mignolet
- Larsson (Vaughan)
- Sessegnon (Mangane)
- Heitinga Yellow
- Coleman Yellow
- Gibson (Jelavic)
- Osman (Barkley)
- Anichebe (Naismith)