DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — Wayne Rooney scored in his first game back with Everton on Thursday (Friday, Manila time), and was given a hug by a spectator who ran onto the field.
Rooney scored the opener for his boyhood club in Everton's 2-1 win over Kenyan team Gor Mahia in a pre-season friendly in Tanzania.
After 13 years with Manchester United, it was an ideal way to mark his return as Rooney curled in a shot from around 30 yards (meters) in the 35th minute. Gor Mahia equalized three minutes later, but Kieran Dowell scored the winner for Everton with nine minutes to go — another long-range strike.
Early in the game, Rooney was hugged by a man wearing a Manchester United shirt who evaded security officials long enough to reach the England striker.
Rooney then gave the local supporters, and Everton fans back home, plenty to cheer when he controlled a pass from Ademola Lookman with his back to goal, turned and sent a right-foot shot sailing into the top left corner.
"I am happy to score in my first match," Rooney said.
Everton is the first Premier League team to visit the East African nation of Tanzania and the brief tour was an indication of the superstar status Rooney still holds around the world.
Fans chanting "Rooney! Rooney!" gathered outside the Everton hotel when the team arrived earlier in the week. Crowds flocked wherever Rooney went in the buildup to the game.
Rooney's return to Everton on a two-year deal was announced last weekend, taking the 31-year-old forward back to the club he grew up watching and supporting — and the club he says he still supported all through his time at Manchester United.
Rooney left Everton in 2004 as a teenager and went on to become Manchester United's record all-time goal-scorer.
After Rooney's first game back on Thursday, Everton manager Ronald Koeman said: "He is still one of the best in his position."