The Everton revival continued today as the Toffees managed a 1-1 draw against high-flying Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby. Rooney scored on a penalty kick after his fine pass set up the play that won the penalty. More on that in a moment.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp showed disrespect for Everton by fielding less than his best lineup. It will be interesting to see how that decision goes down this fans of the Red Shite.
Even so, Klopp’s side thoroughly dominated the match. Before its recent evival, Everton suffered some heavy defeats. Yet even in those matches, Everton wasn’t as outclassed as we were today.
Nonetheless, resolute defending and a bit of luck kept the match close. Liverpool scored as half time approached and nearly scored a second just before the whistle.
The second half was more of the same domination. However, the Shite couldn’t get that second goal, even after Klopp finally brought two star attackers off the bench.
Then, just before the 80 minute mark, came the decisive moment. Rooney had played as, in effect, a second right fullback in the first half, but our new manager, “Big Sam” Allardyce, moved him to a more attacking position in the second.
Rooney continued to see little of the ball in decent positions, but when he got possession Everton looked mildly threatening. And the threat was a little more than mild when Rooney picked out young Dominic Calvert-Lewin with an incisive pass that sent him into the penalty box.
Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren was on hand to deal with Calvert-Lewin, though. The Everton forward went shoulder to shoulder with his marker and then fell down under very little contact. A softer penalty Everton rarely gets, and against Liverpool. Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United would have been lucky to get it.
Even so, Lovren erred by putting out his arm with Calvert-Lewin running sideways, rather than towards the goal. Sometimes you can create your own bad luck.
Up stepped Rooney and even a pessimist like me knew he would bury the kick. He did so with aplomb.
It was Rooney’s first goal in a Merseyside Derby. A boyhood Evertonian, he left us for Manchester United in 2004 at the age of 18, and returned this summer.
Good thing for us that he did. There’s only one Wayne Rooney.
UPDATE: I just read that the penalty was only the second in 80 years awarded to Everton at Anfield, Liverpool’s home field. Thus, if the penalty shouldn’t have been awarded (as I believe), we can consider it a belated make-up call.