Everton defeated Stoke City 1-0 today in the Premier League opener for both teams. Wayne Rooney scored the lone goal on a fine header just before the end of the first half.
I wrote about Rooney’s return to his boyhood club here. He’s been gone since 2004 when he left under acrimonious circumstances to join Manchester United. He became United’s all-time leading goal scorer, as well as the England national team’s.
Even if Rooney hadn’t scored, he would have been the man of the match. His great vision and incisive passing lit up an otherwise dour affair. He also played a key role on defense, clearing numerous Stoke City corner kicks, Stoke’s most dangerous weapon.
The conventional wisdom on Rooney is that his legs are shot. I voiced this concern in my post. Today, however, he was all-action for the full 90 plus minutes.
Rooney did become visibly tired late in the match. However, he still showed for the ball and used his bag of tricks to slow the match down and run out the clock.
Rooney’s professionalism and leadership should prove invaluable to Everton. But on the evidence of today, we’re still going to miss the scoring machine known as Romelu Lukaku.
By the way, Rooney also scored in the first exhibition match he played following his return to Everton. It was a wonder goal that probably helped Everton sell many a jersey in Africa (the match was played in Tanzania). It was a bit like the first premier league goal Rooney ever scored for Everton. That was against Arsenal was back in 2002. You can watch both goals below.