Antonio Valencia’s brilliant opener set Manchester United on their way to a routine win over Everton on Wayne Rooney’s return to Old Trafford before Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku sealed the points.
Rooney impressed, but he was guilty of missing several chances with the best of those coming two minutes into the second-half but David de Gea got down to save before the Spaniard thwarted Gylfi Sigurdsson from six yards.
United then had chances to extend their lead as Juan Mata struck a post with a pinpoint free-kick before Jesse Lingard lifted his shot over the bar when well placed.
Manchester United took the lead with a truly superb strike from Antonio Valencia giving Jordan Pickford absolutely no chance
Valencia kept his eye on the ball all the way and unleashed an unstoppable half-volley which flew past Pickford on Sunday
The United players celebrate taking an early lead during a period of torrential downpour in the opening five minutes
Romelu Lukaku had a quiet game but scored from close range at the far post as United ran riot in the final 10 minutes
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE & MATCH ZONE
MAN UTD (4-3-3): de Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Young, Fellaini, Matic, Mata (Herreraat 77), Mkhitaryan (Martial 88), Rashford (Lingard 60), Lukaku
SUBS NOT USED: Smalling, Carrick, Romero, Darmian
GOALS: Valencia 4, Mkhitaryan 83, Lukaku 89, Martial (pen 92)
EVERTON (3-4-3): Pickford, Keane, Jagielka, Williams, Martina, Schneiderlin, Gueye (Calvert-Lewin 76), Baines, Davies (Sandro 66), Sigurdsson, Rooney (Mirallas 81)
SUBS NOT USED: Klaassen, Besic, Stekelenburg, Holgate
REFEREE: Andre Marriner
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It was a strange first-half. The way it began, it appeared Manchester United could run up a similar score to that Manchester City recorded at Watford on Saturday.
Yet United are built differently to City. This Jose Mourinho side is a significant upgrade on that left to him by Louis Van Gaal, in terms of its potential and attacking intent.
Yet it is some way off the abandon and ambition of a Pep Guardiola team. Mourinho runs a tight ship, doesn’t take as many chances. That isn’t intended as a criticism. It may enable United to play a long-term game that is beyond City this season, it may leave them less vulnerable at crucial moments; we shall see.
What is undeniable is that, initially, Everton looked worried – and not just by Antonio Valencia’s magnificent fourth minute goal. Everything United did hurt them at first. With more than ten minutes gone, Everton had not touched the ball in the Manchester United half. One touch came on the halfway line. It was the kick-off after Valencia’s goal.
Wayne Rooney made his first appearance as an opposition player at Old Trafford in 13 years and he played as the lone striker
Rooney went close to equalising as he was found free on the edge of the box by Cuco Martina by he dragged his shot wide
Everton were punished for starting the game too defensively as the defence dropped deep allowing Valencia space to score
Eric Bailly celebrates with the United captain after Jose Mourinho’s side made a blistering start to the contest at Old Trafford
Rooney speaks to Phil Jones during the first half in which the Blues grew in confidence and had chances to equalise
Tom Davies stoops to get his header in at goal but Michael Oliver’s assistant ruled the midfielder was marginally offisde
Davies protests over the decision to have his effort ruled offside with Rooney stroking in the rebound after the whistle blew
Romelu Lukaku missed a glorious chance to double United’s lead after a mistake from Michael Keane but he fired wide
Lukaku shrugged off Ashley Williams and looked set to score but he curled his shot a yard wide of the right-hand post
And what a goal it was – one destined to feature in any season’s highlights reel, not matter where United finish. Nemanja Matic played a crossfield ball, from left to right, finding Valencia outside the penalty area. With space ahead, he struck the ball first time, a mighty shot that flew past Jordan Pickford into the top corner of the net.
Reinvented as a full-back, it is often forgotten that Valencia arrived when Cristiano Ronaldo left, not a direct replacement, but certainly occupying what once was his role on the right. Sadly, he’s no goalscorer in the CR7 class. This was only his second in the league since Boxing Day, 2011. Still, it was worth waiting for.
Yet, just when it appeared as if United would sprint away from their opponents, they failed to find that kick. Lots of possession, yes, plenty of threat – but little in the way of clear chances. Pickford, no doubt expecting his busiest afternoon, was surprisingly untroubled. It was not until the 26th minute that United came close again, and that chance was not of their creation.
England manager Gareth Southgate and Under-21 boss Aidy Boothroyd (to his right) were in the stands for the league clash
Rooney looked to reverse his shot hoping to find the corner but he could only fire his shot to the right of David de Gea’s goal
Everton persevered with Gylfi Sigurdsson in midfield despite the Icelandic’s poor start since his club-record move
Everton manager Ronald Koeman instructs his players to press further forward as they looked to respond to the poor start
It was Michael Keane who teed it up, a woeful, simple, square pass that failed to reach Morgan Schneiderlin and was picked off instead by Juan Mata. He slipped it through to Romelu Lukaku, who with only Pickford to beat, hit his finish wide of the left post.
The cheers from the visiting end were loud and mocking. Little beats seeing your players who moved on up making an absolute fool of himself.
Lukaku was denied again in the 39th minute, although on this occasion it was Everton’s doing. Marcus Rashford put him through, but Phil Jagielka made ground to put it an outstanding tackle at a crucial moment. The timing and execution were perfect.
So, considering how the game started, Ronald Koeman will have been relatively pleased with the first 45 minutes. They even had a decent chance when Cuco Martina crossed and Wayne Rooney swept the ball goalwards, screwing it just wide of the far post.
Immediately after half-time, he came closer, his hard work eventually giving him close range sight of goal, thwarted by David De Gea.
Morgan Schneiderlin slides in on Henrikh Mkhitaryan as the midfielder returned to face his former club at Old Trafford
De Gea gets down to deny Rooney from point-blank range after the former United striker had won the ball back in the box
Sigurdsson was next to be denied by De Gea from close range as he nipped in to poke a shot away from six yards out
A rainbow hangs over the stadium following the shower at the start of the contest during an evenly contested encounter