Two late goals saw Manchester United kick off their 2017/2018 PL campaign in style, thumping visitors West Ham United 4-0 at the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford.
New striker, Romelu Lukaku gave United a 33rd minute lead, before putting United 2-0 up few minutes after the break. Substitute Anthony Martial made it 3-0, before Paul Pogba completed the rout at the dead to send the Jose Mourinho led side to the top of the PL table.
“The game was difficult,” Mourinho told Sky sports after the match. “It was open at 2-0 and they had a chance to score. It was not a 4-0 game.
“When you relax, you play with confidence. We did not start especially well, we looked nervous but then we put in a quality performance.
He added; “A word that I like is confidence, they played with confidence and played football. It was a very positive performance.
West Ham manager, Slaven Bilic was left disappointed by his side’s performance and said he had expected more from them.
“I expected more of course,” he said. “I have to admit it, they were much better side in every aspect of the game. They were better in the air, they were better on the floor, and better in 50-50 challenges.”
During his pre-match press conference, United manager, Mourinho couldn’t wait any longer to see his side take to the pitch against a difficult West Ham team, and had jokingly said he was ‘on fire.’
However, while the Hammers were anything but difficult at Old Trafford, United were truly on fire, and they convincingly hammered the Hammers.
The away side did start on a bright note, but asides a shot by Juan Mata, they remained evenly poised after the first fifteen minutes, though Nemanja Matic and Pogba had combined greatly on the far right, but the Frenchman’s cross was unable to locate a teammate in the visitors’ box.
The Red Devils continued to dominate, before the Hammers had a chance of their own in the 21st minute, when Mark Noble picked out Chicharito, whose volleyed shot went wide with Arnautovic lurking.
Twelve minutes later, United found the breakthrough. The excellent Matic intercepts a ball in midfield, setting a counter attack led by Marcus Rashford, who threaded a lovely through ball between two West Ham defenders for Lukaku, who finished superbly from close range.
It was the Belgian’s debut goal in the PL, and second competitive goal for United, having scored in the 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super cup.
The home side continued to dominate and control the game, as they pressed further for more goals. Despite half chances by both sides, United went into the break with a 1-0 advantage.
After the break, Lukaku didn’t have to wait too long for his second of the match, as the 24-year-old doubled the Reds’ advantage ten minutes into the second half.
Pablo Zabaleta had stopped a United counter attack, albeit he did so illegally after fouling Rashford, and was booked by the referee.
The resultant free kick, taken by Mkhitaryan from the edge of the box found its way into the box, with Lukaku jumping the highest to head his second and United’s second of the match.
United had the ball in the net moments later, but Mkhitaryan was left disappointed as his goal was cancelled after Rashford, who set him up, was flagged offside.
The Hamamers almost pulled a goal back two minutes later, but Arnautovic was having a bad day, as his header came off the crossbar, off a Fernandes cross just before the hour mark.
On the 65th minute, Rashford almost scored, after cutting in brilliantly to his stronger right foot, before releasing a thunderous shot that beat Joe Hart in goal, only to come off the post.
Rashford, who received a rousing applause from the home fans as he was replaced by Anthony Martial fifteen minutes from time, had been brilliant all game, his performance simply missing the elusive goal.
Moments after coming on, Martial put the game beyond the Hammers, scoring United’s third of the match, after he was set up by a lovely Mkhitaryan pass.
Martial calmly slotted past the helpless Hart, following some lovely piece of play by Pogba and Mkhitaryan.
There was still time for a fourth, as United weren’t done just yet. Matic picked out Martial, who feeds Pogba with a pass before the 24-year-old France international curled an excellent ball beyond Hart from a distance, capping off a beautiful performance from Mourinho’s men, who now sit atop the PL table after game week one matches.
Manchester United XI: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind, Matic, Pogba, Mata (Fellaini 75), Mikhitaryan (Lingard 88), Rashford (Martial 80), Lukaku
Substitutes: Romero (GK), Darmian, Smalling, Herrera
Goals: Lukaku 33, 52, Martial 87, Pogba 90
Booked: Bailly, Valencia
West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Masuaku (Cresswell 81), Obiang, Noble © (Rice 61), Fernandes (Sakho 61), Ayew, Arnautovic, Chicharito
Substitutes: Adrian (GK), Byram, Collins, Fonte