Red Devil Lukaku haunts Hammers again
Romelu Lukaku haunted West Ham United once again as his brace helped Manchester United to a 4-0 opening-day Premier League win at Old Trafford.
The Belgium striker made it eleven goals in 13 career appearances against the Hammers with a goal in each half before substitute Anthony Martial and compatriot Paul Pogba completed Sunday’s scoring as full-time approached.
Lukaku was at his predatory best on a Super Sunday for the Red Devils, lashing home Marcus Rashford’s pass just past the half-hour mark, before nodding in Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s free-kick to complete the scoring eight minutes after the break.
In truth, Manchester United were full value for their victory as West Ham named four Premier League debutants – Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Marko Arnautovic and former Manchester United striker Chicharito – in the same game for the first time in exactly 12 years.
Sadly, the result was not the same as that game, a 4-2 home win over Blackburn Rovers, as Jose Mourinho’s expensively-assembled side controlled proceedings for long periods.
Manchester United won nine corners and had ten goal attempts in the first half, one of which saw Lukaku open the scoring with a lethal finish in off the base of the post.
Nemanja Matic charged down Pedro Obiang’s attempted pass and the ball span into the path of Rashford, whose pass split the Hammers defence and the new Red Devils No9 did the rest.
West Ham’s best chance of the opening period came seconds before the interval, when decent interplay involving Chicharito, Mark Noble and Andre Ayew created space for Edimilson Fernandes, but David De Gea was able to parry his fierce shot.
Into the second half and West Ham momentarily threatened before Lukaku scored his second. Zabaleta was booked for bringing down Rashford and the No9 was allowed the time and space to head Mkhitaryan’s free-kick into the bottom right-hand corner.
Five minutes later, West Ham created their second clear chance when Fernandes crossed diagonally from deep for Arnautovic, who craned his neck and sent a dipping header over De Gea but unfortunately onto the top of the crossbar.
Despite that chance, Bilic opted to change things up, bringing on Declan Rice and Diafra Sakho for Mark Noble and Fernandes, but the substitutes could not stem the red tide.
For the final half-hour, it was almost all Manchester United, with Rashford crashing a shot against the base of the post and Blind volleying a yard over the top, before two late goals rubbed salt into West Ham’s wounds.
First, with three minutes of the 90 remaining, Mkhitaryan’s final touch sent Martial through and he poked confidently past the advancing Hart to make it 3-0.
Then in the final minute of normal time, Martial turned provider for Pogba, who took a touch, drove through the heart of the Hammers defence and calmly placed the ball beyond the goalkeeper.
Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia ©, Bailly, Jones, Blind, Matic, Pogba, Mata (Fellaini 75), Mikhitaryan (Lingard 88), Rashford (Martial 80), Lukaku
Subs not used: Romero (GK), Darmian, Smalling, Herrera
Goals: Lukaku 33, 52, Martial 87, Pogba 90
Booked: Bailly, Valencia
West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Masuaku (Cresswell 81), Obiang, Noble © (Rice 61), Fernandes (Sakho 61), Ayew, Arnautovic, Chicharito
Subs not used: Adrian (GK), Byram, Collins, Fonte
Booked: Zabaleta, Ogbonna
Referee: Martin Atkinson