Rooney rides to Everton's rescue

Reuters
Wayne Rooney comes to Ronald Koeman's rescue as the Everton striker's last-gasp penalty salvages a 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion in the English Premier League.
Reuters
Reuters

Brighton and Hove Albion's Anthony Knockaert scores against Everton during their English Premier League match at the Amex Stadium in Brighton on October 15, 2017. The match ended 1-1.

Wayne Rooney scored a 90th-minute penalty to salvage a 1-1 draw for Everton, whose difficult start to the season continued at Brighton and Hove Albion in the English Premier League on Sunday.

The hosts had looked on course to take all three points from a drab match when Anthony Knockaert pounced on a loose ball and fired home eight minutes from fulltime.

Yet Brighton defender Bruno caught Dominic Calvert-Lewin with an elbow in the final minute and Rooney converted the resulting penalty.

Ronald Koeman's side almost snatched victory in the 94th minute, but Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan produced fine saves to deny Kevin Mirallas and Calvert-Lewin on the follow-up.

Having spent around 140 million pounds (US$186 million) in the close-season transfer window, fueling fan hopes that they could challenge higher up the table, Everton has won just two of its opening eight matches and pressure is mounting on boss Koeman.

Sunday's draw moved both teams on to eight points and lifted them one place in the table, Brighton to 14th and Everton to 16th.

"At least we got one point — I think a point well deserved," Koeman said. "We were the better team. Most of the time we had good ball possession. Maybe we had to create a bit more.

"After 1-0 we showed character and finally maybe had to win the game in the last few seconds."

Rooney was returning to the starting lineup after being dropped for Everton's last league match, a 0-1 home defeat to Burnley.

The visitors enjoyed the bulk of the possession, but struggled to create clear-cut chances and the best opportunities of the match prior to Knockaert's opener both fell to Brighton.

Everton defender Michael Keane, however, made crucial blocks to deny Lewis Dunk in the first half and Knockaert in the second.

"(I am) incredibly disappointed at this moment, because of the timing it feels more like a defeat," Brighton manager Chris Hughton said.

"I thought we were good value. Incredibly disappointed in the manner we conceded. We were up against a very good Everton team, but at that stage I couldn't see them scoring."

Southampton was hosting Newcastle United in the later match on Sunday.

On Saturday, Manchester City opened up a two-point lead over neighbor Manchester United at the top of the EPL thanks to another display of scintillating brilliance in a 7-2 thrashing of Stoke City at the Etihad Stadium.

After the high-noon showdown between Liverpool and a United side lacking in any great ambition ended in goalless stalemate at Anfield, City cashed in with a third straight league match at the Etihad in which it has struck at least five goals.

Pep Guardiola's men became the first team to net 29 goals in their first eight league games of a top-flight campaign in England since Everton 1894-95 as some of their main title challengers faltered.

Their sixth consecutive league win moved them to 22 points with United on 20 and Tottenham Hotspur staying third on 17 after finally earning its first home win at Wembley Stadium, 1-0 over Bournemouth with a Christian Eriksen goal.

AFP

Striker Gabriel Jesus scores Manchester City's fourth goal against Stoke City during their English Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on October 14, 2017.

Sensation of the day came at Selhurst Park where Crystal Palace, hitherto without a goal and point to its name, downed champion Chelsea 2-1 with Wilfried Zaha, returning from injury, scoring a fine winner just before the break.

New manager Roy Hodgson celebrated his first win in charge as Palace finally got in the scoresheet — a Cesar Azpilicueta own goal had given it an early lead before Tiemoue Bakayoko equalized — after 731 minutes without a league goal.

Arsenal was surprisingly toppled, too, as Watford came from behind to snatch a 2-1 win with a 71st-minute penalty from Troy Deeney and a stoppage-time strike from Tom Cleverley, which lifted the Hornets to the giddy heights of fourth on 15 points.

The shock defeats left fifth-placed Chelsea and Arsenal both nine points behind leader City, whose current brand of kaleidoscopic football makes it the favorite to regain the title it last won in 2014.

Gabriel Jesus, with a brace, Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Fernandinho, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva all found the target in the demolition of Stoke with the side now looking like a proper Guardiola creation.

The orchestrator of the exhilarating triumph did not even get on the scoresheet, but not for the first time this season Kevin de Bruyne was hailed the man of the match for his part in four of the goals.

"We didn't lose easy balls, we play fast and simple. That's why I am very pleased. It is the best performance since I am here," Guardiola told the BBC.

"He (De Bruyne) is one of the best by far, he is someone who produced a lot of actions. He is dynamic."

City's dazzle was a stark contrast to its neighbor's safety-first approach in the underwhelming Anfield game during which the only United highlight was David de Gea's great save to deny Joel Matip.

Liverpool, despite being much the better side, was blunt in attack, failing to convert any of its 19 attempts on goal.

"Manchester United came here for a point and got it," said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp with a sigh.

Not that United's manager Jose Mourinho would entertain the idea of it having been a bit of an anti-climactic affair.

"It depends on what is an entertaining game," he said. "One thing is an entertaining game for fans, another thing is an entertaining game for people who read football in a different way.

"For me, the second half was a bit of chess but my opponent didn't open the door for me to win the game."

Chris Wood earned an 85th-minute equalizer for Burnley in a 1-1 draw at home to 10-man West Ham United, which had Andy Carroll sent off in the 27th after a couple of elbowing offenses earned him two yellow cards.

Swansea City forged clear of the relegation zone with only its second league win of the season, a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town.


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