Manchester United ran riot for the second week in succession in the Premier League, as three late goals in the space of four minutes inspired them to an emphatic 4-0 win over hosts Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.
At the end of a first half United dominated, it was Eric Bailly who was most alert in the penalty area to prod home from close range after Paul Pogba’s header rattled the crossbar.
Swansea improved in the second period, but the Red Devils were far too strong in the final stages. Lukaku tucked home to make the game safe, before Pogba’s lovely finish added gloss to the scoreline. With the hosts demoralised, Anthony Martial scored for the second week running off the bench.
In the early stages, the pattern of the match was set out, as the visitors bossed the ball. Swansea retreated into a shape and sought to stifle United's attacking talent.
The Red Devils carved out opportunities to move in front. Phil Jones was inches away from putting his team ahead when his header whacked the crossbar. Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford should have done much better when he raced through on goal, inexplicably dinking his effort at a standing goalkeeper.
Pogba was struggling to get into the game, and after picking up a yellow card early in the half, the Liberty Stadium wanted him dismissed after another foul on Martin Olsson. But referee Jon Moss declined to show the yellow card; Goal's Kris Voakes thought it was the right decision:
Kris Voakes @krisvoakes
Sensible refereeing not to send Pogba off. Not every foul is a yellow. #MUFC2017-8-19 12:00:52
The Frenchman grew into the contest after that incident and was at the heart of United's opening goal on the cusp of half-time.
Pogba guided a bullet header toward goal from the centre of the goal that smashed the underside of the crossbar, bouncing tantalisingly on the line. Bailly showed the instincts of a centre-forward to turn home the loose ball, though, giving United a deserved lead.
As we can see courtesy of Sky Sports Statto, the defender couldn't miss with what was almost the last action of the first period:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
Eric Bailly scores his first goal for Man Utd and his first ever career league goal https://t.co/jJ7tYgcbiz2017-8-19 12:21:55
Early in the second period, United were moving the ball around easily. Swansea, by contrast, were looking a little toothless up front, with their top scorer from last term, the injured Fernando Llorente, watching on from the stands.
As the clock ticked past the hour, it was tough to see quite how the hosts were going to force their way back into the clash.
Per sports journalist Jonny Singer, Swansea's front two were struggling to strike up some chemistry:
Jonny Singer @Jonny_Singer
Fancy Abraham and Ayew may, one day, be a fairly cohesive partnership. But today is not that day.2017-8-19 12:50:41
Manager Paul Clement threw caution to the wind late in the game, though, as he switched to 4-4-2 and instructed his team to operate in a more direct style. They could have snatched an equaliser, but Jordan Ayew wasn't alive when a corner fizzed across the six-yard box.
They were heavily punished in the end. As gaps appeared in the Swansea defence, United's attacking players took advantage, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan teeing up Lukaku with plenty of room in the area. The Belgian, as he tends to do, finished with aplomb.
As noted by Liam Canning, even in a quiet performance, the Belgian was able to make his mark:
Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning
Romelu Lukaku!! Manchester United desperately needed that. He's had one chance all game and has now taken it. Huge difference for United.2017-8-19 13:08:19
The second goal broke any lingering resistance Swansea had, and suddenly all the attacking players in red were keen to get on the scoresheet.
United's third followed not long after, as Mkhitaryan, who was superb all afternoon, put a delicate ball into the path of the rampaging Pogba. The French midfielder impudently lifted the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper to erase any doubts about the result.
Teddy Cutler praised the impact of the United No. 6, who was a force of nature in the last 10 minutes:
Teddy Cutler @TeddyCutler
When the game stretches out, there's no better central midfielder in the world than Pogba2017-8-19 13:13:03
Pogba showed how devastating he can be in the buildup to United's fourth, as he loped through the middle of the pitch unchallenged. The Frenchman played in his compatriot, Martial, who dashed inside and finished calmly to make it four.
It may be early days yet, and the Red Devils have faced some pretty modest opposition. However, with eight goals scored and none conceded, the signs are ominous from Jose Mourinho's men.