Rooney's special strike grabs point for Everton

Charlton Athletic 2 Everton 2
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When your side has played its part in an entertaining fixture but has given away two penalties, it helps to have a teenage prodigy with the talent of Wayne Rooney on hand to deliver a point when none seems likely. Especially with the England manager in attendance.

By his own explosive standards, Rooney had been relatively quiet for much of the game at The Valley last night but with 18 minutes to go and Charlton heading for their first home win of the season, the England striker collected the ball from Gary Naysmith's left-wing cross, turned inside not one but two defenders and unleashed a fabulous equaliser that must have had the travelling Everton faithful chanting his name all the way back to Merseyside.

It was Rooney's first goal of the season and the perfect warm-up not only for Saturday's Merseyside derby but also for England's vital Euro 2004 qualifier against Macedonia. Sven Goran Eriksson must surely be tempted to start the 17-year-old a week on Saturday even if, as David Moyes admitted afterwards, Rooney is still not 100 per cent fit.

Everton were in danger of going home with nothing for all their endeavour before Rooney's exciting intervention. On 24 minutes, a blatant trip on Scott Parker by David Unsworth gave Jason Euell the chance to send Richard Wright the wrong way and early in the second half, the pattern was repeated. Joseph Yobo this time adjudged to have caught Hermann Hreidarsson in full flight, though there was certainly a case for suggesting the Icelander could have fallen less theatrically.

In between, two minutes after Euell's first penalty, Steve Watson hooked home a neat first equaliser for Everton, but all anyone wanted to discuss afterwards was Rooney's special strike. "It was his first touch that made it, he finished the way Shearer would," said Moyes. "He was flagging a little bit towards the end but people forget he's still only 17."

With Kevin Campbell and Duncan Ferguson missing, Moyes had no choice but to pair Rooney with Thomasz Radzinski. "In a perfect world, we'd be using him for match practise and giving him an hour but we've always wanted to use him with Radzinski and the pair of them caused Charlton problems all night," added Moyes.

Everton, who have pulled out of a move to sign Sean Davis from Fulham, are looking at several replacements, including Rangers' Barry Ferguson, but Moyes is by no means certain there will be time to sign anyone before Sunday's transfer deadline.

His opposite number at Charlton, Alan Curbishley, believes Everton will again be tough opponents this season, with or without further reinforcements. "Everton showed last year they were worthy of a European spot and I think they'll be there again this time," he said. The Charlton manager, though, would have loved to have unleashed the injured Paulo di Canio on Everton. "This was the sort of game that was crying out for him," said Curbishley.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Kiely 6; Young 6, Fish 6, Fortune 6, Hreidarsson 7; Kishishev 7, (Stuart 6, 75), Parker 7, Holland 6, Jensen 6; Euell 8, Bartlett 6 (Cole 6, 75). Substitutes not used: Royce (gk), Powell, Johansson.

Everton (4-4-2): Wright 5; Unsworth 5, Stubbs 6, Yobo 6, Pistone 6; Watson 7, Linderoth 5, Pembridge 7, Naysmith 6; Rooney 7, Radzinski 6. Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Weir, Li Tie, Hibbert, Chadwick.

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol) 7.