video: Everton 1 – 0 Stoke City [Premier League] Highlights 2017/18
Wayne Rooney proved the hero for Everton as his first-half header sealed a narrow 1-0 win over Stoke City.
Wayne Rooney enjoyed a dream return to Premier League action for Everton with the only goal in a 1-0 win over Stoke City at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Quiet for much of the opening 45 minutes, the homegrown hero exploded into life with a well-taken winner in first-half stoppage time.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin assisted Rooney’s opener and twice went close after the restart but the solitary goal proved enough for Everton to kick-off their campaign with a win for the first time in five attempts.
Everton had earlier struggled for fluidity as Ronald Koeman fielded five new signings from the outset, with Jordan Pickford comfortable in claiming a clean sheet.
Stoke looked bright in patches but, with only five teams scoring fewer goals last season, their troubles in attack still appear to need solving.
Both teams began with three at the back and it was the away side who looked more incisive early, targeting the space in behind Everton’s wing-backs.
Mame Biram Diouf forced Pickford to push a wayward cross around his near post while the hosts were restricted to shooting from range throughout the opening 25 minutes, midfielder Idrissa Gueye twice trying his luck to little effect.
Stoke, without an opening day win since 2009, looked the likelier of the two to score before the end of a cagey first-half until Rooney rose high and headed Calvert-Lewin’s delivery back across Jack Butland to the delight of the home fans.