Wayne Rooney’s first return to Old Trafford since leaving Manchester United in the close-season ultimately ended in a 4-0 thumping thanks to three late goals, as Romelu Lukaku scored against former side Everton to heap the pressure on Ronald Koeman.
United were poor for much of Sunday’s Premier League match, but blew Everton away in the final stages, with Rooney – who previously missed a couple of good chances – powerless to help following his substitution in the 82nd minute.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial all netted after Rooney’s exit to condemn Everton to a fourth successive defeat in all competitions.
Unsurprisingly, most of the pre-match attention was on Rooney and Lukaku, but within four minutes of kick-off Antonio Valencia had successfully made himself the man of the moment with a simply spectacular 20-yard strike.
Everton did improve as the first period went on, with Rooney squandering a decent chance, but United remained the bigger threat and Lukaku should have scored on two separate occasions.
United were poor after the break, however, with their attacks becoming predictable and slow, while David de Gea twice bailed them out when denying Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
But in the final seven minutes United came to life once again, as Lukaku set up Mkhitaryan, scored himself and then saw Martial fire home a penalty, extending Everton’s winless run to six games in all competitions to further increase the scrutiny on Koeman.
After woeful performances against Tottenham and Atalanta in their last two outings, Koeman set his side up defensively at Old Trafford, presumably hoping to frustrate United for at least a short while.
But a moment of magic meant their resistance lasted a paltry four minutes, as Valencia received Nemanja Matic’s pass just outside the area and sent a ferocious half-volley beyond the helpless Jordan Pickford.
An isolated Rooney endured a difficult opening upon his Old Trafford return. But he did go close 21 minutes in, meeting Cuco Martina’s cut-back and sending it agonisingly wide of the bottom-left corner.
Lukaku was similarly culpable at the other end a few moments later, inexplicably missing the target when played through on goal by Juan Mata after a Michael Keane error.
The Belgian was in again seven minutes before the break, but this time Phil Jagielka got back to make a vital block with Pickford seemingly beaten.
Everton began the second half brightly and Rooney spurned an even better chance than his last, as he charged into the box, rode an Eric Bailly challenge and then shot straight at De Gea. United, on the other hand, became laboured and ponderous in possession, as they struggled to craft goal-scoring opportunities.
And they were let off the hook again after an hour, as Sigurdsson fought his way into the area and saw De Gea make another vital block. Everton had a lucky escape shortly after, though, with Pickford’s right-hand post keeping out Mata’s 20-yard free-kick.
Rooney’s hopes of making a telling impact against United were ended with his withdrawal for Kevin Mirallas eight minutes from time.
And United then exploded into life to finish Everton off.
First, Lukaku pounced on an Ashley Williams error and set up Mkhitaryan for an easy finish, before then smashing in from close range to silence Everton supporters who widely jeered him, celebrating by raising a cupped hand to his ear.
And Martial wrapped things up right at the end, converting a spot-kick after his mazy run had been brought to a halt by the hand of former United man Morgan Schneiderlin.
Key Opta stats:
– Manchester United have now beaten Everton 34 times in the Premier League, a joint record in the competition (also 34 wins for Man Utd against Aston Villa).
– At his sixth attempt in the Premier League, Jose Mourinho finally defeated Ronald Koeman, ending a run of five matches without a win against the Dutchman (D4 L1).
– This was Everton’s heaviest league defeat at Old Trafford since losing 5-1 in December 1999 under Walter Smith.
– Everton have now scored four goals in their last 10 Premier League games – they had scored 26 goals in the 10 prior to this run.
– The Toffees are winless in their last 11 away Premier League games (D5 L6), their worst run since May 2004 (also 11 without a win).
– Wayne Rooney has faced 38 different opponents in the Premier League – Manchester United are the only side he’s never won against (P5 W0 D0 L5).