Leighton Baines leads Everton to Europa League victory
Everton captain Leighton Baines scored the only goal of the game as the Blues defeated Slovakian side Ruzomberok.
The left back scored in the 65th minute to give his team a slender lead heading into next week’s second leg.
Wayne Rooney, making his second competitive debut for the club, nearly opened the scoring in the 28th minute but his shot was kept out by goalkeeper Matus Macik.
Davy Klaasen then had a chance to open his Everton account on the half-hour mark but volleyed wide.
Everton dominated possession throughout but too often failed to hit the target. Idrissa Gueye and Klaasen both had chances to find the net but blazed the ball wide.
Ruzomberok nearly took the lead against the run of play in the 57th minute. Jan Maslo rose highest to meet a free kick but his header bounced off the crossbar.
Everton finally took the lead soon after. Kevin Mirallas’ corner could only be cleared to Baines lurking on the edge of the penalty area. His drilled shot deflected off a defender before nestling into the bottom right corner.
Mirallas nearly doubled the lead soon after but Macik made an excellent save to turn his 20-yard shot wide.
Milos Lacny nearly scored an equaliser late on but Maarten Stekelenburg was equal to the effort.
The teams will meet again in the second leg next Thursday.