Lukaku does the trick for red-hot Toffees
Sunderland 0-3 Everton
Published 13/09/2016 | 02:30
There has been something important missing from Everton's excellent start to the season, so it will be particularly pleasing for manager Ronald Koeman to see Romelu Lukaku score a hat-trick against a stubborn but worryingly limited Sunderland.
For an hour, Everton supporters will have recognised this Sunderland team. It will have reminded them of how they used to play in the early, difficult years under David Moyes, but they are a different side now and when Lukaku is in this sort of form, he is irresistible.
Moyes, who claimed that he might have won the Premier League in his later years at Goodison Park if he had been able to sign a striker as good as Lukaku, could only watch in horror as the centre-forward he coveted scored an 11-minute hat-trick.
Until they had conceded the first goal, Sunderland were starting to look like a Moyes side. Defiant, gritty and resolute, but they fell apart once Lukaku had headed in, unmarked, a cross from Idrissa Gueye. The way they crumbled after that was alarming and Moyes will be furious.
The lack of defensive resolve and the non-existent marking as Lukaku headed in his second, from a cross by Yannick Bolasie, was worrying.
The third was just as bad, Lukaku holding a simple run on the shoulder of the flaky Papy Djilobodji, allowing Gareth Barry to play a straight through ball, which he ran on to and slotted confidently past Jordan Pickford.
Lukaku had not scored a Premier League goal since March, but having scored twice for Belgium against Cyprus during the international break, he is up and running again. When he is good, he is devastating.
This was another poor home performance from Sunderland and Moyes has a huge job ahead of him. As dogged and determined as they were for an hour, they lack sparkle and goals are going to be hard to come by.
There are many reasons why Sunderland have contributed little more to the Premier League landscape than their annual late escape from relegation, and the most obvious is their early season form has been dreadful. Sunderland have now not won a game in August and September in 23 attempts.
This is a young Sunderland side, partly through design, partly because Moyes could not sign established international players with the transfer budget he was given, and they just about managed to keep Everton at bay in the first half, but folded in the second.
Everton stepped up a gear on the resumption. Lukaku almost opened the scoring when he stabbed a shot from Seamus Coleman just wide.
He would not be denied for long and he might have had four, a ferocious shot smashing against the crossbar with Pickford helpless. Sunderland, though, were comfortably beaten in the end.