Lukaku hits 11-minute hat-trick – but is he the real deal?
Opinion remains divided on the Everton striker after he ends his 1,139-minute goal drought in spectacular style
Sunderland 0 Everton 3
Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku is reported to be desperate to leave Everton. The player gave any potential suitors a reminder of his abilities with an 11-minute hat-trick to sink Sunderland.
Lukaku had not scored for two months prior to Monday night's game but "reminded everyone that form is temporary but class permanent by demolishing Sunderland’s fast-folding defence", says Louise Taylor of The Guardian.
The player was also hailed by his manager Ronald Koeman after 1,139 without a goal for the Toffees. However, he said there was more to come from Lukaku.
“He showed tonight he's one of the best strikers you can have," said Koeman. "He knows he can improve. He's 23. We work in unit training on one-on-one, movement, positions in the box."
However, it was not all about Lukaku. The "bustling Belgian... netted a second-half hat-trick to end a dozen-match barren run in front of goal for his club, but opinion remains divided on whether he can consistently deliver top-class performances", says Sean Gibson of the Daily Telegraph.
The real star of the show, he says, was "midfield maestro Idrissa Gueye", a £7m summer arrival from Aston Villa who "won nothing but praise for his work both on and off the ball and is fast earning a stellar reputation at his new club".
Gerard Deulofeu, a second half substitute, and Yannick Bolasie were also singled out for praise.
"As he departed the Stadium of Light with the match ball, Lukaku should have given thanks to Sunderland's invisible defence, and particularly Papy Djilobodji who lost all positional sense in the second half," says Henry Winter of The Times.
The result leaves unbeaten Everton third in the table with ten points from four games. Sunderland, in contrast, lie second from bottom with one point.
The result is particularly galling for David Moyes, the Sunderland boss who built his reputation at Everton but is in danger of losing his aura after failures with Manchester United and Real Sociedad.
Sunderland must have seemed like a good job to take, says Simon Bird in the Daily Mirror. "Big crowds, a club with potential. A low ceiling of recent success with just three top half, top flight finished in 60 years. But already the alarm bells are ringing.
"With the season four games old, Sunderland are set for another relegation fight. Some old frailties. Same old spineless collapses. Half empty, grumbling stadium at the final whistle."