Everton held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw Saturday in another setback for the defending champions as they try to catch the Premier League leaders.
The Red Devils were cruising after Darren Fletcher scored in the 22nd minute, but Marouane Fellaini leveled in the 63rd.
United is five points adrift of Chelsea and Liverpool, which play each other Sunday and are level on 20 points atop the standings.
Third-place Hull was at West Bromwich Albion later Saturday and could also reach 20 points with a win. Also, Sunderland beat Newcastle 2-1 in the northeast derby and Blackburn played Middlesbrough.
Man United looked headed for its seventh consecutive victory in all competitions after Fletcher controlled a pass from Ryan Giggs, rounded Joleon Lescott and shot through goalkeeper Tim Howard's legs.
Nemanja Vidic could have extended the lead but his shot was cleared off the line by Leon Osman and Howard then denied both Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs.
Everton was lucky to have conceded just one goal in the first half and the Toffees found their way back into the match when Fellaini rose above Vidic to head a cross from former United defender Phil Neville past goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
Wayne Rooney, who scored his first career goal for Everton in 2002, missed chances to score his 100th against his former club.
The England striker was substituted in the 72nd after being booked for a late tackle on Mikel Arteta, unjustly according to Ferguson.
"The referee was to blame because he booked him for nothing and the crowd was egging him on, wanting him to be sent off," Ferguson said. "In that situation you wonder who will be next."
Ferguson was critical of referee Alan Wiley for not punishing challenges on his players.
"I don't think the referee protected our players enough," Ferguson said. "I don't know what the game is coming to with some of the tackles and the speed of the tackles."
Ronaldo, still struggling to regain his form after undergoing ankle surgery, squandered a chance to restore United's lead in the 87th when the winger turned Nani's cross wide.
"He had a chance, he may have done better," Ferguson said. "But to be honest, we didn't deserve anything at that point. It was a hanging-on job."