Everton striker Romelu Lukaku made his home debut on Monday, and he had a hand in all three of his team’s goals in a 3-2 win over Newcastle United. He scored twice and added an assist, all in the first half, leaving a deficit too large for the visitors to overcome in the second half.
After the game, both he and manager Roberto Martínez gave the impression that Lukaku feels at home at Goodison Park, despite only being on loan from Chelsea this season.
“I loved it,” Lukaku said. “I was waiting for it for a long time. My teammates helped me, and I felt at ease. At the warm-up and stuff, they kept talking to me, and from Minute 1, I was focused.”
Martínez said Lukaku has a unique style for a target striker, combining physicality and soccer IQ in a way that made him an attractive option for Everton’s possession-based style.
“He’s powerful, but he’s very knowledgeable,” Martínez said. “For a No. 9 to have that awareness around him technically, he’s very gifted. So that always brings a very strong package.”
It leads to Lukaku attracting attention from opposition defenses, which in turn opens up spaces for teammates to run through. His passing ability was on display on Everton’s second goal against Newcastle, which Ross Barkley finished off Lukaku’s slipped through ball.
Lukaku said the result against Newcastle was particularly important, coming off the back of a 2-1 loss at Fulham in the League Cup nearly a week prior.
“After the defeat of the last game, where we created so many chances, I think we worked hard in training, and we had to confirm the good form we were in,” he said. “We started well. The second half, we missed chances, but we still have to work. The season is still very far [from finished], and I think we can improve on it.”
His manager agreed, adding that while Everton sits in fourth place following Monday’s win, he believes his team has a long way to go before it can be considered a finished product.
“We were disappointed with the first three games,” Martínez said. “I thought we were really dominant, really good, and we should have got more points. It’s a great target, to get into the top four. …
“You could see the potential today. Some of the signs were terrific as a team, and then all the other aspects that we need to work and develop, and we’re looking forward to that.”