Football: No joy for Rooney as United wallop Everton

Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan slots home past Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for their second goal. The Red Devils went on to net two more goals in the final two minutes.
Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan slots home past Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for their second goal. The Red Devils went on to net two more goals in the final two minutes.PHOTO: REUTERS

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester United 4

Everton 0

It amounted to a wretched reunion for Wayne Rooney.

He was welcomed back to Old Trafford with a standing ovation, celebrated, serenaded and unceremoniously beaten. He squandered a golden chance and saw his beloved Everton suffer a fourth consecutive defeat, a sequence he only endured once as a Manchester United player.

Meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku had a much better day against friends-turned-enemies.

Everton's finest finisher for three decades was booed by the fans who used to cheer him and also missed the sort of opportunity he would normally take. But in a productive few minutes, he set up a goal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and scored one himself as United turned a tight game into a rout.

It was their third 4-0 win of the season, drawing them level on points with Manchester City again and symbolising the difference in United this season.

Everton earned two of the many draws Jose Mourinho's men experienced last year but Ronald Koeman suffered a belated, comprehensive first defeat at Old Trafford.

The United faithful afforded Rooney a wonderful reception.

A different kind of tribute came from Antonio Valencia as a long-serving United player scored a wonder goal while wearing the captain's armband.

The right-back was one of those who was often obscured by the club's record scorer. His moment in the limelight came when Nemanja Matic picked him out. Valencia struck a half-volley, directing a dipping, unstoppable shot past Jordan Pickford. It was all the classier as he struck it with the outside of his right boot.

It was a glorious goal, but this was a game made memorable equally by the shots that did not go in.

Lukaku ought to have scored sooner against his old employers.

Another player facing his former club, Michael Keane, lost possession and gave the ball away to Juan Mata. The Spaniard picked out Lukaku, who sidefooted wide when it seemed simpler to score.

Rooney was similarly culpable. He was denied by David de Gea after bundling his way through the United defence. When he did have the ball in the net, Tom Davies had already been ruled offside as he drew a fine save from de Gea.

Rooney had steered an earlier shot wide, too.

He did well to have as many chances. Everton arrived playing 5-4-1, a negative game plan that was rendered outdated inside four minutes.

While Gylfi Sigurdsson, who was thwarted by de Gea, almost equalised, Everton ought to be better than this after a £145 million (S$265 million) refit.

And they ended up getting thrashed. After Mata struck the post with a set piece and Rooney was substituted, Lukaku sent Mkhitaryan clear to secure victory before forcing in a third goal after his free kick was blocked.

Then Anthony Martial, reprising his role as a super substitute, won and scored a stoppage-time penalty.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2017, with the headline 'No joy for Rooney as United wallop Everton'. Print Edition | Subscribe