Everton youngster Kieran Dowell netted a second half screamer as the Toffees made a winning start to their pre-season campaign, beating record Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia 2-1 at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The Toffees were matched stride for stride by Gor Mahia in a pedestrian opening half which blitzed to life in the 34th minute courtesy of a thunderous strike from new signing Wayne Rooney. After an eventful first half that saw him approached by a pitch invader wearing a Manchester United shirt, Rooney gave Everton the lead with a superb curling finish from 25 yards out. Scores of Everton fans who watched the clip either online or on Everton TV were quick to point out that the effort was almost identical to Rooney's first ever senior goal for Everton against Arsenal.
It was the former Manchester United star's first Everton goal since he scored against Leeds 4,839 days ago.
However, the lead lasted only for two minutes as Jacques Tuyisenge pulled Kogalo level with a fine header from a corner, Toffees keeper Marteen Stekelenburg barely getting a touch.
Everton upped the tempo after the interval and created one chance after another as Kogalo's substitute keeper Peter Odhiambo was made increasingly busy. Boniface Oluoch, whose positioning could be questioned when Rooney beat him, must have felt lucky having been largely underworked during his 45-minute run out.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was running the show and had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside. Kieran Dowell came close to restoring Everton's lead but his curling effort in the 79th minute hit the crossbar with the keeper stranded. Idrissa Gueye also got in the thick of it and was denied a goal by Harun Shakava who cleared off the line.
There was ever less that the Gor Mahia reserve keeper could do as the 19-year-old let fly a left-footed effort from outside the area that found the roof of the net. Dowell picked a pass from Everton's biggest find of last season Tom Davies and with his back to the goal, the youngster took a couple of strides forward before smashing home with eight minutes to the final whistle.
Dowell and fellow substitute Calvert-Lewin as well as Kevin Mirallas tilted the game in the Toffees' favor as Kogalo's substitutes failed to match the efforts of the first half team. Dowell had a shot saved while new signing from Burnley Michael Keane headed just wide as the minutes ticked. Gor Mahia barely threatened to hit the equalizer and force the clash to penalties even as six minutes were added on.
Gor Mahia earned the right to play Everton after winning the regional SportPesa Super Cup, which pitted teams from Tanzania against those from Kenya.