February 25, 2018 / 5:53 PM / 4 months ago

Soccer: Manchester United's Lukaku defies critics with goal and assist

(Reuters) - Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku shrugged off criticism of his scoring record against the biggest teams after an outstanding performance on Sunday sent his former club Chelsea home with a 2-1 Premier League defeat from Old Trafford.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United vs Chelsea - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 25, 2018 Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku applauds the fans after the match REUTERS/Andrew Yates

The Belgian striker’s goal to cancel out Willian’s opener for the visitors was the first time Lukaku had scored in seven games against top six sides this season.

United’s man-of-the-match also made the winning goal for substitute Jesse Lingard with a perfect cross.

“It’s a good day for me and we won so that’s the most important thing,” he told the BBC.

“To get the goal before halftime was really important for us. We showed our qualities and our desire in the second half.”

The win moved second-placed United to 59 points with 10 games left, six clear of Chelsea who have slipped to fifth in the battle for the top four and Champions League qualification.

“It was a good, intense game to play in, with a bit of skill here and there, I think the neutral fan would have enjoyed it today,” added Lukaku, who now has 13 league goals this season.

“At the end of the day I just want to work hard for the team, and if I improve I’m really satisfied.”

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United vs Chelsea - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 25, 2018 Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

MCTOMINAY PRAISED

There was widespread praise for 21-year-old United midfielder Scott McTominay, who did not suffer in comparison with the club’s record signing Paul Pogba.

“I’m fearless, I just want to get on the pitch as much as I can now,” said McTominay, who is qualified to play for either England or Scotland.

“When we went behind, we had to chase the game a bit. But in the second half we were completely in control. They’ve got brilliant players all over the pitch but I think everyone of us put in a massive shift today.

“I’m really enjoying my football at the moment, it’s great to be playing in the Premier League and the Champions League regularly, but at the end of the day it’s a really good three points for the team.

“It’s great when any manager talks about you, but when it’s Jose Mourinho it’s extra special, I just have to remain humble, and keep working hard for the team.”

Chelsea midfielder Danny Drinkwater felt a 2-1 defeat was an unfair result.

“We definitely deserved more, first half we were dominant,” he said. “Second half was more even, but we didn’t deserve to lose that match, no way.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United vs Chelsea - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 25, 2018 Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku scores their first goal REUTERS/Andrew Yates

“Obviously there are bits we can improve on, first of all we can improve on not conceding, and scoring more goals, but football can sometimes go against you and today’s one of those days.

“It’s down to us now, we have to get our results in order and hopefully the other teams’ results will look after themselves.”

Reporting by Steve Tongue; Editing by Ken Ferris

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