Debut man Romelu Lukaku was upstaged by two-goal team-mate Marcus Rashford on Saturday as Manchester United began their pre-season preparations with a 5-2 win over Los Angeles Galaxy.
The £75 million front man came on at the break for his first appearance as a United player with Jose Mourinho deciding to play with two separate XIs in the two halves. By the time the former Chelsea and Everton star stepped foot on the pitch, Rashford’s finishing had already put them out of reach.
Playing alongside Anthony Martial as part of a genuine two-man strike force, Lukaku wasn’t short of opportunities to register a debut goal. He could have netted within four minutes of his introduction but fired too close to Galaxy keeper Brian Rowe, who had initially teed up Paul Pogba to supply the pass with a poor clearance. Moments later he dragged a right-foot short wide of the far post as he appeared almost too keen to make a speedy impression.
There was another snatched shot from range too as the 24-year-old tried with all his might to grab a debut goal, but a wonderful piece of running did help to create vital space for Martial to tuck home United’s fifth goal of the night. His movement and build-up play was a real positive even if his finishing was rusty.
In fact, Martial had far more welcoming opportunities fall his way as the second half progressed thanks in large part to the running game of Lukaku in the final third. On another night, the front pair might have netted a few each.
Lukaku had a lot to live up to after Rashford had netted two first-half goals, slotting almost identical efforts to either side of Galaxy keeper Jon Kempin as the home side’s second-string outfit struggled to put up any kind of fight. The only black mark against the 19-year-old’s record was a failure to convert shortly before half-time after bearing down on goal, with his shot fired straight at Kempin in a moment reminiscent of the profligate United side of 2016-17.
Elsewhere there were positive performances from the likes of Ander Herrera, Antonio Valencia and Juan Mata, while Marouane Fellaini found the net as United ran riot against a poor Galaxy outfit in the first half.
Thankfully for all concerned there was a much more competitive feel to the second period, but it was still the Reds who bossed proceedings for the most part. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the chief tormentor after the break and he fired home a richly deserved fourth from 12 yards midway through the half before Martial struck.
What won’t have pleased Mourinho was the late concession of two rather soft goals but the importance of getting 45 minutes into players’ legs will be considered to outweigh the slight negatives.
“It was a good game to get us going,” Rashford told MUTV afterwards, “and it’s good for your self-confidence [to score a couple] but there’s still a long way to go in pre-season.”
For Lukaku, it will just be a blessing to get the first-night nerves out of the way.