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Wayne Rooney marked his top-flight return to Everton after 13 years by scoring the winner against Stoke and his 199th goal in the Premier League.
The 31-year-old, who left the club for Manchester United in 2004, found space in the area to head a Dominic Calvert-Lewin cross past Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland before the break.
It was the Toffees’ best move of the match – one Rooney was twice involved in before adding the finishing touch.
Calvert-Lewin also went close for the home side as Stoke struggled to break Everton down on the opening day at Goodison Park.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s long-range effort did force new Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford into a fine save in stoppage-time, with the 23-year-old leaping across his line to tip wide.
Rooney’s perfect homecoming
Rooney scored the first of his Premier League goals for Everton with a sublime strike against Arsenal as a 16-year-old in 2002. His 199th in the English top flight 15 years later wasn’t quite as dramatic, but it will have meant just as much to the boyhood Blues fan.
Sir Alex Ferguson moved to snap up the teenager after some flashes of genius in an Everton shirt and Rooney returned to Goodison Park as England and Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer.
He helped start the move that resulted in the winning goal with some neat link-up play with Idrissa Gueye and Sandro Ramirez, before showing all that experience to peel away in the area and guide a free header into the opposite corner.
The forward started tenaciously and could have found himself in the book for a late tackle on former United team-mate Darren Fletcher, but Rooney’s desire to track back and help his side defensively also proved invaluable against a direct Stoke threat.
This season could go a long way to deciding his legacy among the Everton faithful, but the former England captain will also be hoping to play his way back into Gareth Southgate’s plans with a World Cup looming next summer.
The winning goal on his Goodison Park homecoming proved a perfect start.
More to follow.
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