Everton 1 Stoke 0: Rooney hits winner for Toffees


Everton v Stoke: Wayne Rooney could make his debut at Goodison ParkGETTY

Wayne Rooney scored for Everton

The ball hit the back of the net. As it did when he was a teenager, Goodison Park reverberated to a chant of “Rooney, Rooney.”

The locals hailed a Liverpudlian. They cheered an Evertonian. It was the happiest of homecomings.

Once a Blue, he is a Blue again. A scorer for Everton at 16, he found the net again deep into his 32nd year.

Rooney’s 18th goal for Everton came 13 years after his 17th. He scored the small matter of 253 times for Manchester United in between.

If few meant as much as this, he tends to score significant goals against Stoke.

He broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s United record at the Britannia Stadium in January. A reunion with the Potters brought a return to the Everton scoresheet.

No wonder Stoke boss Mark Hughes feared the worst. “Probably the only chance Everton created in the first half was the quality ball they put into the box for you know who,” he rued.

“He was always going to be part of the story. That was always the worry.”

Rooney touched the ball more in the Everton box than the Stoke penalty area. But when a chance came his way, he took it. Dominic Calvert-Lewin crossed, Rooney rose unmarked and headed past Jack Butland.

So he ensured it was not a day when Everton need not regret the loss of the £75 million man Romelu Lukaku. Rooney is a different replacement.

Slimmer and trimmer than he has been, he worked relentlessly. He started off playing alongside new striker Sandro. He spent the second half on the right wing.

And as such, scorer turned supplier. A favour was returned as Rooney set up Calvert-Lewin. Kurt Zouma slid in to block the youngster’s shot.

How Chelsea, with Gary Cahill sent off and their defence in tatters, may have wished they had not loaned Zouma to Stoke. But Everton created little else.

“It was not the best performance,” admitted boss Ronald Koeman. “We know we can do much better.”

But if Everton scarcely looked a side who had undergone a £100 million makeover, three of the new boys, Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and substitute Cuco Martina, helped keep a clean sheet.

Pickford had few chances to show why Everton made him the most expensive English goalkeeper ever before Xherdan Shaqiri let fly in stoppage time. Pickford flew to his left. “An outstanding save,” added Hughes.

If Rooney won the points, Pickford protected them.

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