A second-half hat-trick from Romelu Lukaku gave Everton a 3-0 victory away to Sunderland in Monday’s Premier League clash.
The striker had gone 1,139 competitive minutes without a club goal before he headed in Idrissa Gueye’s cross to give Ronald Koeman’s side a lead they never looked likely to surrender.
Jermain Defoe spurned a clear opening for the home side early in the first half, but chances were few and far between in an end-to-end opening period at the Stadium of Light before Lukaku broke the deadlock.
It took Sunderland 52 minutes to register an effort on target through Lamine Kone’s header, and they scarcely threatened further before Lukaku nodded in a killer second from Yannick Bolasie’s cross.
Sunderland suddenly looked deflated and Lukaku took full advantage to seal his hat-trick, slotting low past Jordan Pickford following Kevin Mirallas’ clever first-time pass to seal a third defeat in four league matches for former Everton boss David Moyes.
Pickford denied Bolasie a fourth but Everton’s visiting fans were in full voice – some of them targeting Moyes with chants of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ – as their side took revenge for a 3-0 reverse on the same ground last season and moved into third in the table.
Defoe wasted the best chance of a balanced opening half-hour, slicing the ball over the crossbar from just 12 yards after beating Everton’s offside trap.
Lukaku’s glancing header forced Pickford into a fine one-handed stop, before Ashley Williams nodded narrowly wide from Mirallas’ corner.
Everton looked the more likely to open the deadlock, with Bolasie’s movement causing Sunderland some problems, but Maarten Stekelenburg had to be alert to stop Lynden Gooch’s cross from looping into the far corner.
Koeman replaced the ineffective Ross Barkley with Gerard Deulofeu at half-time and his run allowed Bolasie the chance to test Pickford from distance, before Kone headed straight at Stekelenburg from a corner.
But Lukaku, who had been isolated too often in the first half, at last ended his goal drought on the hour mark. Deulofeu fed Gueye on the counter-attack, and the midfielder’s pinpoint clipped cross from the right was nodded into Pickford’s bottom-right corner by the Belgium striker, who was unmarked just six yards from goal.
Lukaku came within inches of a second just three minutes later, rattling the crossbar on the turn inside the area, but he had better luck with 68 minutes played as Sunderland’s defence made it all too easy for him.
Bolasie drove to the byline down the Everton left and looped a cross towards the far post, where Lukaku arrived unmarked once again to head in from point-blank range.
And the former Chelsea man added a stylish third three minutes later, racing onto Mirallas’ first-time throughball between a static Sunderland defence before shooting left-footed beyond Pickford.
Pickford saved low to his right from Bolasie’s drive and Lukaku blasted a presentable opening over the bar, but the damage to a Sunderland side desperately short on confidence had already been done.
Key Opta stats:
– Romelu Lukaku’s first goal ended a run of 40 successive shots (incl. blocked) without scoring for Everton since his previous goal against Chelsea in the FA Cup back in March.
– His hat-trick was scored in 11 minutes and 37 seconds – the 12th quickest in Premier League history.
– Everton have lost just one of their last 18 Premier League matches played on a Monday (W8 D9 L1).
– This is the sixth consecutive Premier League season that Sunderland have failed to win any of their opening four games in that campaign.
– This is only the second time in Premier League history that Everton have won as many as 10 points in their opening four games of a season – the other was in 2006-07 when they finished sixth.