Everton’s Wayne Rooney admitted he dare not miss the penalty which gave him his first Merseyside derby goal and his side a 1-1 draw at Anfield.
Having barely had a chance for 76 minutes, Dejan Lovren’s foul on Dominic Calvert-Lewin saw the Toffees awarded only their second spot-kick at their near-neighbours since 1937.
Rooney had been waiting since his debut in 2002 to score in a cross-city clash for his boyhood club and, having scored five times against Liverpool during his 13-year stint at Manchester United, there was no debate as to who would take it.
Asked where the goal ranked in his glittering career, Rooney said: “It’s right up there.
“Lovren kicked the ball away so I was walking over to get it and I was just trying to compose myself.
“All I kept thinking was, ‘You can’t miss this penalty, you just can’t!’. It was such a big moment in the game. I was delighted with it.
“I was just as delighted with the character that we showed because physically, for the whole team, it was a difficult game.”
The goal extended the club’s unbeaten run to four matches – three since the appointment of new manager Sam Allardyce.
With seven points out of the last nine on offer, the Toffees have moved into 10th in the Premier League having been involved in a relegation scrap before that.
“We have done well the last couple of weeks, there have been some good performances and good results,” Rooney added.
“The main thing is we have made it harder to play against us. We were conceding goals too easy, silly goals.
“We knew if we corrected that, we would get chances. That is what we have done.
“We have gone solid and made ourselves hard to beat.”
Rooney acknowledged the five-week period between Ronald Koeman’s sacking and Allardyce’s arrival had a detrimental effect on the players with the side winning just one match in seven under interim boss David Unsworth.
“We were thinking, ‘Is Unsy going to get the job? Are they going to appoint someone else?’
“That ran through the whole football club. It was probably on the players’ agenda even when you think it isn’t.
“Thankfully it was sorted out and we know where we are now. That is starting to show on the pitch and hopefully we will get more results and start climbing the table further.”
Source: By Carl Markham, Press Association Sport