Thursday 20 July 2017

Koeman heaps praise on four star Lukaku

Everton's Ashley Williams in action with Bournemouth's Joshua King. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters
Everton's Ashley Williams in action with Bournemouth's Joshua King. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Romelu Lukaku scored Everton's fastest Premier League goal after just 31 seconds on his way to bagging four in an entertaining victory over Bournemouth.

The 23-year-old struck almost straight from kick-off and was gifted another - after a fortuitous second for James McCarthy - as the hosts raced into a 3-0 half-time lead.

Everton's Seamus Coleman in action with Bournemouth's Marc Pugh. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
Everton's Seamus Coleman in action with Bournemouth's Marc Pugh. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

However, a Josh King double set up a tenser-than-expected finish before Lukaku added two more late on, becoming Everton's second-highest Premier League goalscorer just one behind Duncan Ferguson (60).

There was time for Harry Arter to tap in the visitors' third ahead of Ross Barkley scoring Everton's sixth.

Manager Ronald Koeman had hailed the "different spirit" within the squad following a January clear-out of Darron Gibson, Bryan Oviedo, Tom Cleverley, Oumar Niasse and Gerard Deulofeu but new arrivals Morgan Schneiderlin and 19-year-old Ademola Lookman, handed his full Premier League debut, have brought a much-needed dynamism.

The side is gradually morphing into one which Koeman believes should be targeting sixth-placed Manchester United in the quest for European honours this season. If they are to do it Lukaku's goals are going to be pivotal.

Everton's Ross Barkley celebrates scoring his sides 6th goal during the Premier League match at Goodison Park. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA
Everton's Ross Barkley celebrates scoring his sides 6th goal during the Premier League match at Goodison Park. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

Soporific starts have so often affected matches at Goodison but not this one with Lukaku and McCarthy exchanging rapid passes before the latter curled home left-footed to beat David Unsworth's 32-second effort against Fulham in David Moyes' first game at the club in March 2002.

Lookman, who has settled quickly at this level having played League One football for Charlton until St Stephen's Day, then flashed a shot across Artur Boruc's goal. Bournemouth could not get a foothold and when Lukaku twisted and crossed McCarthy bundled home after his initial shot hit Steve Cook and rebounded off the Everton midfielder's body for his first of the season.

There was not much movement required for Lukaku's second as Simon Francis inexplicably passed to him 12 yards out.

The visitors, with just two points from five matches in 2017, sprung into life after the break and King scored twice from close range before Arter forced Joel Robles into a full-stretch save.

Everton were reeling for a while before their talismanic striker came to their rescue with two more expertly-taken goals to become the all-time leading Belgian in one of Europe's top five leagues with his 76, eclipsing the 72 scored by Luis Oliveira in Serie A from the late 1990s to early 2000s.

Although Arter sneaked one in at the near post from close range, Barkley finished things off in added time to make it 17 points from Everton's last seven matches.

"He is world-class striker," said Everton boss Koeman of Lukaku. "He is improving. The big quality he shows every day in training is not so difficult but being that clinical in finishing how he was today shows he is one of the best. I have the pleasure every day to be on the pitch and watch his finishing."

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe was unhappy with how poor the visitors were defensively.

"It wasn't pretty was it? I think today was individual errors," he lamented. "It is very difficult when you come here and defend like that."

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