Romelu Lukaku enjoyed a perfect Premier League debut for Manchester United against West Ham United, claiming two goals as Jose Mourinho’s men ran out comfortable 4-0 winners.
The Belgian, who scored against Real Madrid on his competitive debut, had the spotlight firmly on his head after the likes of Alvaro Morata and Alexandre Lacezette scored on their first outings for Chelsea and Arsenal respectively.
And he duly went about silencing those ready to pounce on him, claiming Man United’s opening goal in the 33rd minute following some brilliant work from Marcus Rashford before adding a second with a trademark header from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s free-kick just after half time.
A quick look at his stats shed light on what was an emphatic striker’s performance from start to finish against Slaven Bilic’s men.
Lukaku's game by numbers vs. West Ham:
3 key passes
40% chance conversion
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 13, 2017
United are a totally different team with Lukaku at the masthead of attack, and nothing crystallised that more than United’s first goal of the new Premier League season: a Nemanja Matic interception, brought forward by Marcus Rashford, with the Serbian and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on either side. And then there was Lukaku, holding his run but steaming inexorably towards goal through the middle, West Ham tracking back in a state of panic, before latching on to a perfect pass and, well, you know the rest.
There couldn’t have been a better way for United to open their account for this term. The ‘killer ball’ nature of the move was quintessentially Mourinho; the raw speed and creativity of the move, with bodies streaming forward, was quintessentially United; and that finish, above anything, was quintessentially Lukaku. Absolutely slapped home.
And so was his second – an old-school, angled header using the pace of the ball to guide it past a helpless Joe Hart. Straight out the striker’s textbook. This was the exact sort of thing United missed last season and supporters will be desperate to see it continue.