Romelu Lukaku upstaged Wayne Rooney on his Old Trafford return as Manchester United produced a late flurry to thrash Everton 4-0.
Rooney, United’s record goalscorer, was the centre of attention on Sunday as he faced his old team for the first time since his summer move back to his boyhood club.
But the 31-year-old – playing the day before he was due to appear at Stockport Magistrates’ Court on a drink driving charge – could not rescue Everton after falling behind to a stunning early Antonio Valencia strike.
After a typically whole-hearted display, Rooney was substituted on 82 minutes and could only watch as Everton capitulated in a frantic closing period.
Lukuku, the villain for away fans after swapping Goodison Park for United in a Â£75million summer deal, grabbed the limelight by setting up Henrikh Mkhitaryan and then scoring himself.
The Belgian, guilty of a glaring miss in the first half, celebrated his contributions in front of the visiting supporters by putting a finger to his lips and cupping a hand to his ear.
Anthony Martial struck a last-minute penalty to wrap up a victory which took United level with rivals Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
The two Manchester clubs have identical records after five games in terms of points, goal difference and goals scored, but United boss Jose Mourinho claimed City were not in his thoughts.
Mourinho said: “I didn’t think one single second about Manchester City. I thought about Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool – they didn’t win their matches and it was a chance for us to get two points, like they got last week when we drew against Stoke.
“City won the game and did their job, I was thinking about the others, and when I saw their results, I thought it was an opportunity we cannot waste.”
The final scoreline flattered United but it was still another disappointing result for Everton, who slipped into the bottom three.
The Toffees, although they have already had to play City, Chelsea, Tottenham and United, have just four points.
It was a season that began with much optimism after a positive transfer window but manager Ronald Koeman tried to play down expectations.
He seemed particularly frustrated by remarks from Mourinho in his programme notes which suggested, after spending Â£140million, Everton would want “to at least secure a top-four position”.
Koeman said: “I read the programme of United and my colleague told about Everton, ‘They are spending Â£140million, they need to go for the top four’.
“Sorry, if there’s anybody in this room and outside who sees something realistic (about) what is possible for this Everton, please come on. Be realistic and let’s talk at the end of the season.”
He added: “I felt there was something possible this afternoon because I wasn’t so impressed by United.
“That is maybe strange after a 4-0 defeat but they were really clinical and we didn’t deserve this high defeat.”
Published at Mon, 18 Sep 2017 06:23:57 +0000