Romelu Lukaku struck twice on his Premier League debut for Manchester United as Jose Mourinho’s side made an emphatic start to their campaign with a 4-0 win over West Ham United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The Belgian striker, who was signed from Everton in a 75-million-pound ($97.58-million) move last month, began repaying that investment with two fine finishes but it was not only his imposing presence in attack that give United a very different feel from last season.
Another close-season recruit, Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic, brought from Chelsea, made an excellent debut in the defensive midfield role, breaking up any threats from West Ham and then prompting United’s attacks with intelligence.
With Marcus Rashford’s pace and directness down the left flank and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s trickery on the right, United showed a variety and inventiveness that too often was missing last season when they drew 10 home games.
One of those home draws came against the Hammers, the fourth in a row at Old Trafford, and a frustrated Mourinho was sent to the stands.
While the United manager has too much experience and sense to get carried away with an opening-day win, he acknowledged his side had delivered a quality performance.
“The fact we start winning and are top, it means nothing. The performance and the levels of confidence is what means a lot to me. We lost two points against them last season and had similar games where we were dominated. Today we got the three points,” he said.
Lukaku opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, blasting in off the post after latching on to a clever through ball from Rashford, who had run with the ball from deep in his own half.
West Ham, whose forward forages were rare, came close to levelling on the stroke of half-time when David De Gea was forced into a fine save by a well-struck effort from Edimilson Fernandes.
But Lukaku made it 2-0 seven minutes after the break, rising to meet a Mkhitaryan free kick with a superbly angled header into the far bottom corner.
Substitute Anthony Martial made it 3-0 in the 87th minute with a side-foot finish after being played in, again by Mkhitaryan.
Moments later Paul Pogba fired in the fourth after he was slipped in by Martial to complete the rout to the delight of the home support.
“The fans want to see attractive football and we have to stick to that,” said Lukaku.
“They will be pleased today. It is just the start, we need to keep working to the manager’s plan.”