Wayne Rooney became the youngest goalscorer in Premiership history as his 90th minute 25-yard screamer prevented Arsenal from going 30 matches unbeaten in the league.
It looked set to be a routine game for the Gunners as the ball broke loose in the Everton area and Freddie Ljungberg slotted home on eight minutes.
But a vibrant atmosphere around Goodison Park spurred David Moyes’ men on and enigmatic striker Tomasz Radzinski equalised from the edge of the area after Lee Carsley’s shot had smashed against the post.
The Canadian continued to be a pest for the Arsenal defence throughout the game and could’ve won a penalty right before half-time when it seemed his heels were clipped by Ashley Cole but his protests were waved away by referee Uriah Rennie.
Radzinski’s hard work carved out another big opportunity on 62 minutes, but Thomas Gravesen’s strike from the edge of the area was expertly turned around the post by David Seaman.
Sylvain Wiltord also came close four minutes later with a shot that rattled the post after Richard Wright had deserted his goal to close down Thierry Henry. But the match appeared to be heading to a stalemate when Wayne Rooney was brought on for Radzinski on 80 minutes.
The buzz around the ground for the arrival of the striker, who’s 17th birthday is five days away, was immeasurable and he immediately began exerting his influence on the game, shrugging off Sol Campbell and clattering Ashley Cole with a late challenge.
With added time just around the corner, Gravesen launched a long ball upfield which Rooney took down with consummate ease. He then spun round towards the Arsenal goal and from 25 yards out curled a magnificent strike which crashed off the crossbar on its way into the top corner of David Seaman’s goal.
The ground erupted as the hero of the day sprinted towards the Main Stand where he was mobbed by his team-mates. The game took a minute to settle down as Everton set about protecting their lead but there was still time for Rooney to intercept a Sol Campbell pass and send a chip sailing just over the bar from an acute angle. The final whistle was blown a minute later.
Rooney’s dramatic winner makes him the youngest goalscorer in the league’s history, beating Michael Owen’s record, at 16 years and 359 days old. It puts Everton up to ninth while Arsenal drop to second, trailing leaders Liverpool by a point.
19th October 2002 – Premier League