Belfast Telegraph

Rooney toasts his Everton return with a 30-yard strike

By Carl Markham

Wayne Rooney's fairytale return to Everton continued as he marked his first appearance since rejoining with a goal. The 31-year-old's arcing 30-yard right-footed strike to beat the Gor Mahia goalkeeper in his top right-hand corner had echoes of Rooney's maiden goal for the club against Arsenal back in 2002 - five days short of his 17th birthday.

Picking up possession 40 yards out in the inside-left position, he took one touch with his left foot, advanced the ball a few yards with his right and lashed home a shot.

It marked the perfect way for Rooney, playing up front, to announce his return after a 13-year spell at Manchester United.

Having put his side ahead in the 35th minute in the club's first pre-season friendly against Kenyan opponents in Tanzania, he immediately raised his arms to the sky in celebration.

However, his joy was short-lived as Jacques Tuyisenge equalised with a near-post header a couple of minutes later.

Rooney departed at half-time as manager Ronald Koeman made 11 changes, having given new signing Davy Klaassen 45 minutes, with winger Aaron Lennon making his first appearance since February 11 after receiving treatment for a stress-related illness.

"To score for Everton again is a great feeling," Rooney said.

"It's something I've been thinking of for the last couple of weeks, once I knew (the move) was happening.

"Thankfully, I've done it in today's game and that 45 minutes will only help."

Another new signing, Michael Keane, played in the second half after his arrival from Burnley and his header saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin nod home only for the goal to be wrongly ruled out for offside. Kieran Dowell hit the crossbar from a short free-kick before moments later, nine minutes from time, he smashed home a left-footed effort from 25 yards to secure a 2-1 win.

Such is Rooney's star appeal that at least three Gor Mahia players stopped him to pose for photographs after the final whistle before he was escorted off by a security detail.

Meanwhile, Everton are moving in on Gylfi Sigurdsson, despite Swansea's attempts to ramp up the fee by sparking an auction between three interested clubs.

The Swans have rejected a record £40m offer from Goodison Park, which matched a failed Leicester bid for the midfielder.

Sigurdsson's previous club, Tottenham, are also monitoring developments, and Swansea hope the rival interest will drive the deal up to their £50m asking price.

Everton feel they may only have to go as high as £42m for the Iceland international, and it is understood Sigurdsson - who was pulled out of the club's pre-season tour in the USA at the last minute on Wednesday night - is keen to play for Koeman.

The 27-year-old is one of the few remaining names on Koeman's hitlist after a massive signing spree, and the Dutchman is quietly confident he will join before a friendly against FC Twente next week.

Swansea admit Sigurdsson, who scored 10 goals and had 13 assists last season in a side fighting relegation under three different managers, is probably leaving despite their attempts to play hardball over his fee.

Belfast Telegraph


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