Man United, Tottenham make winning starts in Premier League
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 14, 2017 07:58 AM
Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku, second left, celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
By Steve Douglas, Associated Press
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Two summer signings costing $150 million inspired Manchester United to an easy victory in its opening Premier League match of the season.
Tottenham didn't spend anything in the transfer market during the offseason but still got off to a winning start Sunday.
Romelu Lukaku scored twice and Nemanja Matic ran the game from central midfield as United beat West Ham 4-0 in an ominous performance at Old Trafford.
United jumped ahead of Chelsea to sign Lukaku for 75 million pounds ($97 million) in July and the Belgium striker has already scored on his competitive debut — a consolation against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup — and now on his Premier League debut.
The nature of his goals against West Ham highlighted the impact Lukaku could have. The first came when he ran onto a through-ball following a quick break and slotted a finish in off the post in the 33rd, and the second was a header from a free kick in the 52nd.
Matic, meanwhile, was authoritative on his league debut for United following his recent departure from Chelsea, which looks increasingly like an ill-judged decision by the champions. He created the first goal by dispossessing West Ham's Pedro Obiang and sparking the break, and proved to be an impenetrable shield in front of United's back four.
He could be one of the signings of the summer at 40 million pounds ($53 million).
Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba scored in the final three minutes of normal time to leave United top of the early standings on goal difference.
Earlier, Tottenham beat 10-man Newcastle 2-0 away thanks to goals by Dele Alli and Ben Davies, with last season's runner-up only pulling clear at St. James' Park after Jonjo Shelvey's 48th-minute red card.
Shelvey was sent off for treading on the foot of Alli, an act that was even more foolish as it took place right in front of the referee.
Spurs are the only team in the Premier League not to make a signing this summer but they are still looking likely title contenders, alongside United.
Jose Mourinho has had two summer transfer windows to create a team in his image. That's usually all it takes for his teams to become champions, with the Portuguese coach having won domestic league titles in the second season at his last five clubs.
What is most striking is the size and physical presence of this United team, even more so now Matic and Lukaku have joined. His finest Chelsea teams also had that mix of power and physicality that could overwhelm opponents.
"I think we can do better than last season," Mourinho said after his biggest victory as United manager. "Second transfer window for us. Now 13 months of work together."
And it's starting to show. Lukaku offers the mobility that Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn't possess, and that will stretch opposition defenses as shown by his first goal against West Ham. It should mean Pogba, who is already benefiting from having a ball-winner like Matic alongside him, gets more room in central midfield.
Pogba struck the goal frame more times than the net last season, but his goal from 25 meters (yards) against West Ham to complete the win could be a sign of things to come.
Mourinho said center back Victor Lindelof, another United summer signing, wasn't included in the squad as he needs time to settle. Lindelof struggled against Madrid in the Super Cup, with Mourinho acknowledging the game came too early for him.
Harry Kane, the top scorer in the last two Premier League seasons, has now failed to score in his last 11 league games in August, although he struck the post against Newcastle.
Dele Alli was on target, though, to bolster his growing reputation as the most prolific midfielder in the division.
He scored a career-high 18 league goals last season and showed a striker's instinct to meet Christian Eriksen's far-post cross with a volley across the goalkeeper in the 61st minute.
Eriksen was again the provider for the second goal, running into the area before being beaten to the finish by Davies, up from left back.
The last time Spurs played at St. James' Park, they lost 5-1 on the final day of the 2015-16 season.
"In a stadium that doesn't have good memories for us, it was important to win," Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said.