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On This Day in Everton History: August 21st

An opening-day drubbing and road to Champions League begins, while it’s 200 up for Rooney in today’s feature

Everton beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Selhurst Park on this day in 2004
Photo by Chris Young - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

In today’s ‘On This Day’ feature, we look back at two impressive victories which set the tone for memorable seasons, as well as an individual accolade for one of England’s most gifted players while wearing royal blue:

1954 - Blades thumped as Blues return to top-flight

Football Team
The Everton side of the 1954-55 season, their first back in the top-flight
Photo by Carl Sutton/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After three years in the wilderness of Division Two, Everton announced the return to England’s top table on this day in 1954 with a 5-2 thrashing of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Despite no new signings over the summer, it made no difference to Cliff Britton’s Blues, who raced into a 5-0 lead thanks to goals from John WIllie Parker (twice), Eddie Wainwright (twice) and Tommy Eglington.

A couple of consolations for the Blades were the only blot on an otherwise remarkable first game back in Division One. Everton have never been relegated since then, their longest consecutive run in England’s highest league.

2004 - Road to Europe begins at Selhurst Park

After a 17th-placed finish the previous season, the 2004-05 campaign looked set to promise more of the same for Evertonians when champions and invincibles Arsenal brushed their team aside 4-1 at Goodison on opening day. How wrong they were.

Everton would, of course, go on to reach fourth place and qualify for the Champions League that season - still their highest finish in Premier League history today. And they took the first step on that with this 3-1 win at newly-promoted Crystal Palace on this day 16 years ago.

Mark Hudson had put the Eagles ahead early on, but a cheap penalty gifted Thomas Gravesen the chance to draw Everton level, and the Dane duly obliged.

Gravesen then struck a long-range stunner after the break to put the Blues ahead, before Marcus Bent capped off a good day’s work in the capital late on. Not even Gary Naysmith’s red card jeopardised proceedings for Moyes’ men, who got off the mark for the season at the second attempt.

2017 - Rooney joins 200 club in City draw

Finally, today marks the three-year anniversary of Wayne Rooney netting his 200th Premier League goal, as the boyhood Blue made it two in two since returning to the club by scoring in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City.

Ronald Koeman’s Everton more than held their own against a City side who would go on to reach 100 points and fail to win in only one other league match that season, and Rooney even put them ahead after 35 minutes with a trademark poacher’s finish.

Everton then gained a man advantage, too, following Kyle Walker’s red card, but couldn’t quite see out the win when Mason Holgate’s stray header landed right into the path of Raheem Sterling, who duly fired in a late equaliser. Morgan Schneiderlin then received his marching orders for a contentious challenge to also level up the player count.

Still, that draw looked an even more commendable and anomalous result the longer that dreary season under first Koeman and then Sam Allardyce drew on.