Wayne Rooney scored the game's only goal
Everton began 2017-18 with a narrow, hard-fought victory at Goodison Park, picking up from a dreary first half to edge Stoke with Wayne Rooney's goal.
The returning boyhood Blue popped up in first-half stoppage time to steer a header past Jack Butland with what proved to be the winner, although it took a terrific save from Jordan Pickford to preserve the points at the death in the second half.
Ronald Koeman began the game with another experimental system, deploying Dominic Calvert-Lewin as an advanced wing-back and all three fit senior centre-halves in the middle.
Sandro Ramirez made his Premier League debut up front playing off Rooney and he would have the first effort on goal in a poor first period, a shot that he dragged well wide after space had opened up for him in front of the Stoke goal.
Idrissa Gueye then saw a tame shot from distance comfortably saved by Butland but chances were few and far between as the Blues toiled to make inroads into a predictably well-drilled Potters defence.
Mark Hughes's side welcomed Bojan Krkic back following his loan spell in Germany and it was he who drifted a cross-cum-shot over the bar late in the first half as Stoke briefly threatened.
The match was heading into the break goalless when the home side produced their best move of the game. Rooney was instrumental in starting it, playing in Gueye who fed Sandro and he in turn found Calvert-Lewin wide on the right.
The young striker swung in a perfect cross that found Rooney in a surprising amount of his space and the veteran used all his experience to send the ball back across the ‘keeper to send Everton into the dressing room a goal to the good.
Koeman replaced Ashley Williams with Cuco Martina at the break and reverted to a back four, a switch that saw the Blues improve markedly in the second half.
It was Stoke who went close to scoring first, however, when Darren Fletcher, making his own debut following a summer move from West Bromwich Albion, drilled a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Calvert-Lewin, now operating as a forward, headed a cross wide and then went close in one-on-one situations with Butland but the England ‘keeper was equal to it, beating the shot behind for a corner.
The closing stages were nervy times for the Goodison faithful as Hughes threw Peter Crouch on to get on the end of a succession of high balls pumped into the Blues' box but it was Xerdan Shaquiri who almost rescued a point in the third minute of injury time.
The Swiss midfielder evaded the attentions of substitute Tom Davies in a central position and unleashed an accurate shot that was searching for the corner when Pickford dived to his left to turn it behind.
Although it was a performance that lacked cohesion and penetration, particularly when the side was labouring under the 5—3-2 formation, the win gets Everton off to a desired start to the new campaign.
Full details: ToffeeWeb Match page