Everton beat Stoke City narrowly to break a four-game streak of opening day draws. The 1-0 result can be considered fortunate for the Blues who were given a run for their money by the limited visitors.
The visitors had the better start in this game, controlling possession and snapping into tackles as the Blues struggled to get a foothold. the lack of options up front was quite glaring as well, with Everton more than once squandering possession after finding nowhere to go.
The lopsided 3-4-3 formation Ronald Koeman put the team in had a lot to do with the discord, but misplaced passes and a general lethargy from the players added to the frustration for the restless Goodison Park crowd.
However all was forgotten on almost the last whistle of the first half when a good combination move set Dominic Calvert-Lewin free down the right, and his lofted cross was nodded in by Wayne Rooney and the home fans burst out in relief and adulation in equal measures.
The second half started with more of the same, as the Potters were stung into action by being undeservedly behind. Cuco Martina replaced Ashley Williams as the Toffees returned to a 4-man backline and more stability.
Rooney got better as the half went on though, with his deft flicks and deep vision helping open up a Stoke side that pushed forward in the search for an equalizer. Substitutes from either side opened up the game in the last quarter, and once again Everton had chances on quick counter attacks but failed to take advantage of the additional space.
A stunning flying save from Jordan Pickford deep into time added on from what looked like another worldie by Xherdan Shaqiri preserved the lead and just like that, Everton start the season with a win!
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