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DAVID MCDONNELL: Goalless again vs one of the big boys, but Everton’s Lukaku still put derby Blues to rest

Date Posted,April 4, 2017

After his Merseyside derby no-show on Saturday, the pressure was on Romelu Lukaku to deliver at Old Trafford.

The Premier League’s top scorer had a point to prove after going AWOL in Everton’s meek 3-1 capitulation to arch-rivals Liverpool.

Toffees boss Ronald Koeman leapt to his defence , insisting the Belgium striker had earned the right to an off day having already plundered 21 goals.

Yet he also challenged Lukaku to use Tuesday night’s stage to answer those critics who had castigated him.

The striker was criticised after being a non-factor against Liverpool (Photo: Action Images via Reuters)

The 23-year-old took heed of his manager’s pre-match message, producing more in the opening 10 minutes of the draw with United than he managed in 90 minutes at Anfield.

Having declared his intention not to sign an extension to his contract, which expires in 2019, Lukaku will almost certainly be on his way this summer.

There will no shortage of suitors for the £60million-rated forward, whose goal-scoring exploits this season have elevated him to a new level.

Inconsistency has been the question mark hanging over Lukaku so far in his career, while a perceived inability to produce against the bigger clubs has also been held against him.

And it’s a fact that only four of his 39 Premier League goals over the past two seasons have come against the current top six — a trend that continued at Old Trafford.

It’s now four goals in 39 games against the top six for Lukaku, but he gave Rojo problems (Photo: Getty)

In the 25th minute, he dragged a shot wide of the target after being put through by Ross Barkley. Ten minutes later, his lack of awareness was exposed when he went for goal, with Kevin Mirallas in a far better position to hit the net waiting to his left.

But Lukaku had the measure of United defender Marcos Rojo throughout and even though he failed to get on the scoresheet, he showed his derby disappointment was an isolated aberration in what has otherwise been an exemplary campaign.

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