Thursday 21 September 2017

Romelu Lukaku hits a brace as rampant Manchester United go top of the Premier League

Manchester United 4 West Ham United 0

Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku, right, celebrates with Manchester United's Marcus Rashford after scoring his side's first goal
Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku, right, celebrates with Manchester United's Marcus Rashford after scoring his side's first goal

Andy Hampson

Romelu Lukaku immediately started to pay off his transfer fee with two goals as Manchester United beat West Ham 4-0 in their Premier League opener.

The £75million summer signing struck in each half as United justified pre-season optimism with a sparkling and confident display at Old Trafford.

The Hammers were completely outplayed and could easily have trailed by more goals before substitute Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba finally put a more realistic slant on the scoreline in the closing minutes.

United took control early on and never relinquished their grip, looking a formidable force with new arrivals Lukaku and Nemanja Matic bedding in well.

West Ham's former United striker Javier Hernandez was given a good reception before kick-off - a welcome certainly not extended to the visitors' on-loan Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart - but the Mexican had little else to cheer.

He, and his team-mates, were emphatically shut out of the game. United won most of the loose balls and were energetic in possession. Matic was outstanding in midfield, covering plenty of ground and laying the foundation for many of United's attacks.

Lukaku threatened early with a burst down the left and Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a shot blocked and fired over.

Hart did well to block a Juan Mata effort after the Spaniard had been played in by Mkhitaryan and Angelo Ogbonna managed to hack clear as Lukaku looked to pounce.

Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku scores their first goal
Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku scores their first goal

Mata then slipped the ball past Hart after being set up by a neat flick from Pogba but again Ogbonna cleared.

It came as little surprise when United took the lead after 33 minutes. Pedro Obiang gifted the ball to Matic and Marcus Rashford raced clear to slide in Lukaku. The Belgian finished decisively by thumping in his shot off a post.

West Ham had a rare chance on the stroke of half-time as Edimilson Fernandes forced David de Gea to parry a shot. Any hopes the visitors had of getting back into the game, however, were dashed early in the second half.

Mkhitaryan clipped in a well-weighted free-kick into the box and Lukaku was gifted the space to power a header past Hart.

West Ham debutant Marko Arnautovic looped a header onto the bar in response but United moved up the gears and threatened to force open the floodgates.

Lukaku was denied a hat-trick by a brilliant block from Pablo Zabaleta and Mkhitaryan forced Hart into a good save after a tricky run.

Rashford then hit the post from distance and Daley Blind saw a shot bounce over.

Lukaku celebrates with Paul Pogba after the match
Lukaku celebrates with Paul Pogba after the match

The third goal finally came as Mkhitaryan teed up Martial with three minutes remaining and Pogba then added a fourth with a curling shot in the last minute.

Tweet of the Match

"This has been an absolute hammering! ð¨ð¨ð¨ð¨ Great start to the season for Manchester United #mufc" - Former Manchester United player Micky Thomas.

Star Man - Nemanja Matic.

Lukaku's goals may grab the headlines but it was Matic that allowed United to boss the game. The Serbian was outstanding, covering plenty of ground, refusing to allow West Ham any meaningful possession and launching numerous attacks. It was a commanding display and, if it is repeated many more times, Chelsea will rue letting him go.

Moment of the match

As United controlled the first half, it seemed only a matter of time before they opened the scoring. All eyes were on £75million club record signing Lukaku and he handled the pressure superbly. He took the first decent chance that came his way with supreme confidence, running onto a good pass from Marcus Rashford and smashing home off the post. It was a moment that delighted Old Trafford and offered much encouragement for the season ahead.

View from the bench

United boss Jose Mourinho will reflect on a highly satisfactory afternoon. After some pedestrian performances last season, there are now strong signs the team have evolved. United had bite, pace and creativity. The Louis van Gaal era is now seeming ever more distant. For Slaven Bilic the signs are far less encouraging. Admittedly West Ham showed little ambition and only seemed intent on damage limitation, but there may be concerns they allowed themselves to be bossed about so easily.

Player ratings

Manchester United

David de Gea: 6

Antonio Valencia: 6

Phil Jones: 6

Eric Bailly: 6

Daley Blind: 6

Nemanja Matic: 9

Paul Pogba: 7

Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 8

Juan Mata: 7

Marcus Rashford: 7

Romelu Lukaku: 8

Substitutes:

Marouane Fellaini (for Mata, 76): 6

Anthony Martial (for Rashford, 80): 7

Jesse Lingard (for Mkhitaryan, 88): 5

West Ham

Joe Hart: 6

Pablo Zabaleta: 6

Winston Reid: 6

Angelo Ogbonna: 7

Arthur Masuaku:6

Mark Noble: 6

Pedro Obiang: 5

Edimilson Fernandes: 5

Andre Ayew: 5

Marko Arnautovic: 4

Javier Hernandez: 4

Substitutes:

Diafra Sakho (for Fernandes, 60): 5

Declan Rice (for Noble, 61): 5

Aaron Cresswell (for Masuaku, 81): 5

Who's up next?

Swansea v Manchester United (Premier League, August 19)

Southampton v West Ham (Premier League, August 19)

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport