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Rediff.com  » Sports » Europa: Rooney makes quiet return to Everton in narrow win

Europa: Rooney makes quiet return to Everton in narrow win

Last updated on: July 28, 2017 15:30 IST

Wayne Rooney

IMAGE: Wayne Rooney in action for Everton against MFK Ruzomberok. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

yne Rooney's Everton homecoming ended in a 1-0 win over Slovak side Ruzomberok with the former Manchester United striker having a quiet return to Goodison Park in the Europa League, third qualifying round, first-leg on Thursday.

The 31-year-old re-signed with his boyhood club earlier this month after enjoying 13 years with Manchester United and was, of course, given a warm welcome from the home supporters.

But, playing in his old centre-forward role, the Liverpool-born Rooney was unable to truly threaten the Ruzomberok goal and only really became influential once he had moved out to the right flank.

Rooney's positional switch came after Everton manager Ronald Koeman brought on another new signing, Spaniard Sandro Ramirez, in the 61st minute.

Ramirez, "a different kind of number nine to Wayne" according to Koeman, brought the sharpness, urgency and physical presence to the Everton attack that had been missing as Rooney floated in more of a free role.

Wayne Rooney

IMAGE: Wayne Rooney tackles Erik Daniel of MFK Ruzomberok. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Within four minutes of the change, Everton took the lead when, from a corner, the ball was cleared to Leighton Baines, whose fierce drive took a deflection and beat Ruzomberok keeper Matus Macik.

Koeman indicated that Ramirez, with another week of training under his belt, could start in Slovakia next Thursday and that could mean Rooney beginning in the wider role.

On the limited evidence of his first outing that may well be the wisest choice given Rooney's pace is now far from that of the teenager who made his name at Goodison.

Asked for his views on Rooney's first competitive game under his charge, Koeman said: "Good, positive. He worked very hard. A lot of positives after four weeks of pre-season."

While the Premier League team might have expected to have created a bigger advantage for next week's second leg, Koeman said he was content with the result.

"One-nil is not a bad result maybe everybody thought we would get a bigger result at home but everybody needs to realise that we are in just the fourth week of pre-season and not at 100 percent. In European football a 1-0 with a clean sheet is a good result," he said.

The Dutchman is hoping the Slovak side, who were well organised and played with a deep defence, will come out and attack more in the second leg.

"They need to do more than they did tonight and maybe that makes a totally different game for us," Koeman said.

Debutant Rodriguez gives Milan winning return to Europe

Ricardo Rodriguez scored on his debut to give AC Milan a 1-0 win away to Romanian side Universitatea Craiova as they returned to European club competition after a three-season absence on Thursday.

The Europa League third qualifying round first leg tie, played at the 20,000 capacity Municipal stadium in Drobeta-Turnu Severin, was not the most glamorous of comebacks for Milan and was a far cry from their heyday.

But the win still provided a morale-boosting start to the season for the seven-time European champions.

Switzerland full back Rodriguez, one of four new signings to make his debut alongside Fabio Borini, Franck Kessie and Mateo Mussachio, curled in a trademark free kick one minute before halftime.

It was not all plain sailing for Milan, who have splashed out around 190 million euros ($221.86 million) on new signings so far in this transfer window in their attempt to bounce back from several seasons of midtable mediocrity.

Craiova, making their first European appearance since being refounded in 2013, had the first real chance when Ionut Mitrita forced a full-stretch fingertip save from Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

At the other end, 19-year-old Patrick Cutrone, making only his second Milan appearance, saw his shot strike the inside of the post, roll along the line and hit the other upright.

Craiova had several chances to equalise in the second half and finished the match on the attack.

"We couldn't expect too much this evening," said Milan coach Vincenzo Montella.

"Craiova are ahead of us in fitness terms and they have some quick players. It was predictable that we would suffer and it is something we are going to have to do during the season."

"We are still a team under construction. We had a lot of new players, or players who have barely played for us."

In other matches, second-half goals from Domenico Criscito and Aleksandr Kokorin gave Zenit St Petersburg a 2-0 away win at Israeli side Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv.

Croatia's Osijek managed a shock 1-0 win away to Dutch side PSV Eindhoven while former European champions Red Star Belgrade beat Sparta Prague 2-0 at home.

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