ROMELU LUKAKU began to repay his £75million transfer fee with a dream Premier League debut for Manchester United.
The Belgian forward struck a goal in each half to give Jose Mourinho’s men a perfect start to the season.
The only regret for the ex-Everton man is that he did not go home with the match ball – as the Hammers could easily have been on the wrong end of a hammering.
Right from the start, United had the kind of pace and power that has been missing for so long at Old Trafford.
Yet For all their dominance United had failed to make Joe Hart work as much as they would have hoped.
The on loan City keeper was given plenty of stick from the Stretford End – and that was before he was picking the ball out of his net.
The opener came just after the half hour – with another new signing Nemanja Matic making a crucial tackle to win the ball back.
Marcus Rashford ran at pace towards the visiting defence and slipped it through to Lukaku whose shot beat Hart and went in off the post.
The former Chelsea forward clearly enjoyed the moment – but United were almost pegged back on the stroke of half-time.
Edimlson Fernandez got his shot away on the edge of the box and it flicked off Eric Bailly before stinging the palms of David de Gea.
It was a fully deserved half-time lead for United and Rashford fluffed a chance to make the points safe soon after the re-start.
However the home crowd did not have to wait long for a second as Mkhitaryan floated over a free-kick and Lukaku got his head in to score.
Again the Hammers could have hit back as Marko Arnautovic’s looping header bounced on the top of the bar.
INTERACTIVE STATS – CLICK on the categories to find out how the teams fared
But United were looking like scoring too and a well worked move saw ex-City defender Pablo Zabaleta deny Lukaku a hat-trick with a superb block.
And Rashford cut in from the left and unleashed a brilliant right-footed shot which hit the base of Hart’s post.
It was only a matter of time though before United found their way through the Hammers back line again, and this time sub Anthony Martial was able to roll the ball into the far corner for the third on 88 minutes.
There was still time for a fourth, which United thoroughly deserved, when Paul Pogba curled a 20-yard effort low into the bottom corner.
INTERACTIVE LINE-UPS – CLICK on a player’s number below to see their stats
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
- Three of the previous five Premier League games between these two clubs had ended in a draw, with one win apiece in this run.
- United came into the game unbeaten in their last nine Premier League home games with the Hammers – their last defeat on the final day of the 2006-07 season.
- West Ham gave league debuts to all four of their summer signings, Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez
- Hernandez scored 37 goals in 103 Premier League games for United, netting a
goal every 130 minutes for the club.
- Romelu Lukaku loves playing against West Ham. He scored in seven straight league games against the Hammers before drawing a blank in April at the London Stadium.
Romelu Lukaku grabs two goals In his first Premier League start for Manchester United against West Ham
- Jose Mourinho has never lost a league game at home throughout his entire managerial career.
- No team has won more opening day fixtures in the Premier League than Manchester United, who have triumphed 17 times.
- West Ham have lost more opening day fixtures than any other Premier League club (11).
- Romelu Lukaku has now scored on his Premier League debut for three different clubs (West Brom, Everton and United.
WHAT THEY SAID
Jose Mourinho said: “I think we didn’t start especially well. I think we were nervous, not so confident but then we had a quality performance, a good personality and we looked confident. I’m happy, it was a very good performance.
“We had matches (last season) where we were dominant but couldn’t score enough goals. Today we did and got three important points.”
Romelu Lukaku said: “To be play in front of such a crowd was a dream, four goals and a clean sheet, it’s a good start. When you play for United, you know you have a job, mine is to score goals.
“It’s promising. The manager wants me to create and be a leader for the team. All the training has paid off.
“The fans want to see creative football and we need to stick with it. I think we gave them that.”
Midfielder Nemanja Matic added: “It was a very important game for us to start with three points. They were very compact and after we scored the first goal there was more space for us.
“We take the three points and now next game we will play with more confidence.
“If we continue to work like this and play like this, then we will see”
DREAM TEAM RATINGS
Man Utd: De Gea 7, Valencia 7, Bailly 6, Jones 7, Blind 7, Matic 8, Pogba 9, Mata 7 (Fellaini, 6), Mkhitaryan 9 (Lingard, 6), Rashford 7 (Martial, 7), Lukaku 7
West Ham: Hart 5, Zabaleta 6 , Reid 6, Ogbonna 5, Masuaku 6 (Cresswell, 5), Obiang 6, Noble 6 (Rice, 5), Ayew 5, Fernandes 5 (Sakho, 5), Arnautovic 6, Hernandez 6
Star Man: Henrikh Mkhitaryan