Romelu Lukaku scored against his former club as Manchester United thrashed Everton to move joint-top of the Premier League.
Wayne Rooney’s return to Old Trafford ended in a dismal defeat – embossed by three late goals – which sent Everton into the bottom three.
The Toffees have endured a dire start to the season and have not scored a goal in any of four successive defeats in all competitions.
Antonio Valencia smashed a shot past Jordan Pickford from 25 yards to put Jose Mourinho’s side into an early lead which rarely came under threat.
Rooney, United’s record goalscorer, had Everton’s two best opportunities but once he left the pitch with nine minutes to go his former employers hit overdrive.
Lukaku found Henrikh Mkhitaryan to steer home before the Belgium striker bundled in the third himself at the far post, and substitute Anthony Martial added a stoppage-time penalty.
United and Manchester City have an identical record at the top after five Premier League games.
Lukaku, who left Everton to join United for £75m in July, was kept quiet for most of the game but set up Mkhitaryan with a smart pass to punish a costly Ashley Williams mistake, and then celebrated in front of the away fans when he scored the third a minute from time.
The Belgian has scored five goals in his five league appearances for his new club but did miss a great chance in the first half.
Clean through on goal after another defensive error, he fired wastefully wide in front of the Stretford End.
But he took his chance clinically in the last minute. His initial free-kick hit the wall, but when the ball was played back in, he latched on to Jesse Lingard’s flick to fire in, before cupping his ears to the Everton fans.
Rooney scored 253 goals for United in his 13 years at the club, but after an expected and justified warm welcome on his return, he cut a frustrated and lonely figure at times.
His move back to boyhood club Everton in July was widely heralded, and his two goals this season remain the club’s only strikes in the Premier League.
England and Manchester United may have decided in recent years that his best position is not up front but he started there and was isolated for long periods before moving deeper in the second half.
He had Everton’s two best chances, steering a shot wide in the first half and then shooting straight at David de Gea seconds after the interval.
Rooney was given a standing ovation and handshake from Mourinho when replaced inside the last 10 minutes – after which Everton collapsed. It is now 325 minutes since they scored in the league.
Published on 17 September 2017 | 5:00 pm at Source