Romelu Lukaku sets Everton record in three-goal romp over West Brom
Everton made light work of West Brom as Romelu Lukaku set a club record of 19 for Premier League goals in a season when making it 3-0 in the 82nd minute
While the battle for seventh seems resolved, a skirmish for sixth is gaining intrigue. Everton are now seven points ahead of West Bromwich Albion and have given themselves the chance to overhaul Manchester United, even if only for a day, next weekend. Sixth would be amazing, said their manager, Ronald Koeman.
Everton have spent 2017 trapped in no mans land between the top six and the bottom 13. If they represented a target for the upwardly-mobile Midlanders, the balance of power was tilted still further towards Merseyside by one West Brom alumnus and a man Tony Pulis hoped to sign in January.
Romelu Lukaku first displayed his potency in the Premier League during a season at The Hawthorns when he only started 20 games but nevertheless scored 17 goals. Four years later, and already Evertons record scorer in the division, he continues to ally potency with statistical merit. In becoming the only Evertonian to strike 19 times in a Premier League campaign, he displaced himself from their history books. In becoming the first to reach 20 in all competitions in successive seasons since Bob Latchford, he brought echoes of their past on a day when Everton paid tribute to another former Goodison great, the late Alex Young.
Normally Romelu Lukaku will score in every game, said Koeman, who stated his top scorer remains very close to signing a long-term deal. He is one of the best strikers in the Premier League, added an envious Pulis, pointing to a gulf in resources.
When you think how much they spent on Morgan Schneiderlin, he reflected. He was willing to pay 20m himself and scarcely required further evidence of the midfielders excellence. He got it anyway, the Frenchman opening his Everton account to secure a fifth successive home league win. He supplied a deft, delicate finish, holding off Jake Livermore and beating Ben Foster, after a neat reverse pass from Lukaku.
The five minutes at the end of the first half killed us, said Pulis after Evertons extra quality told. Pulis 300th Premier League game as a manager had begun in familiar fashion as West Brom defended with well-drilled expertise. Lukaku unlocked them by veering right, pleasing Koeman with his movement, and freeing up space for runners. When he found Ross Barkley, the Englishmans shot was parried by Foster and the recalled Kevin Mirallas buried the rebound.
It was an indication of Barkleys influence. Another came when Lukaku headed in his scooped cross. Thats the best I have seen Barkley play, Pulis said.
Koeman savoured an outstanding display, delivered in front of the England manager, Gareth Southgate and explained he had liberated the local lad. Everyone knows Ross had a difficult time earlier in the season, he said. We changed his position so hes not in midfield. In a free role, he can be creative for Romelu.
Their chemistry is proving particularly potent. Scoring three goals against West Brom is really difficult, Koeman said. With Idrissa Gueye rattling the post, his team almost mustered four.