Despite putting up a brave and impressive show throughout, Kenya's Gor Mahia on Thursday ended up losing 2-1 to English Premier League side Everton in a friendly match at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The contest however provided a befitting return for England captain Wayne Rooney, who was making his second debut for Everton after spending the past 13 years at Manchester United, after he struck a stunning beauty to open the scoring in the 34th minute.
The lead didn’t last long though as Rwandan striker Jacques Tuyisenge levelled the scores with a bullet header three minutes later before Kieran Dowell gave the Toffees a deserved win with a thunderous left footed strike inside the last ten minutes of the game.
The contest, arranged by giant gaming firm SportPesa which sponsors both clubs, eventually lived up to the weeks of hype with its proceedings trending on several social media outlets.
Former Tanzanian presidents Jakaya Kikwete and Ali Hassan Mwinyi were among the dignitaries in attendance.
So were hundreds of Gor Mahia's Green Army fanbase, most of whom had been ferried to Dar es Salaam on Wednesday.
Everton's Dutch coach Ronald Koeman selected his strongest available line-up with compatriot Maarten Stekelenburg manning the goal and Davy Klaassen partnering Rooney upfront.
Newly appointed Gor's English coach Dylan Kerr preferred the experienced Harambee Stars keeper Boniface Oluoch in goal, with Rwandan internationals Meddie Kagere and Tuyisenge leading the attack.
Rooney, the star attraction in this fixture, was kept quiet for long spells in the match before he exploded with the stunner to give the Toffees the lead.
Rooney picked the ball about 30 yards out, set up himself before curling a stunner into the top corner, leaving goalkeeper Oluoch with no chance.
A fan, clad in a Manchester United jersey, soon after made his way into the pitch from the stands to hug the all-time England top scorer before he was whisked away by the security officers.
Moments later, Karim Nizigiyimana’s cross was deflected off the field of play by Callum Connoly after a solid run from the right hand side of the pitch. From the resultant corner, Kenneth Muguna's outswinging delivery was met powerfully by Tuyisenge for the equaliser.
Rooney and the entire starting 11 was rested after the break, but Everton still went on to dominate this contest in the second half, despite losing a raft of clear-cut chances including a Ademola Lookman effort that came off the upright.
Youngster Dowell sealed the win eight minutes from time after collecting an inviting pass from Tom Davies, before unleashing a fierce, left-footed drive high into the net beating Gor Mahia’s second keeper Peter Odhiambo beneath the Dar es Salaam sunshine at the packed 60,000 seater facility.