Everton striker Romelu Lukaku insists he needs to develop into a penalty box serial killer after ending his goal drought with a destructive hat-trick as his side hammered winless Sunderland.
Lukaku brought a 13-match barren spell to a close as the Toffees recorded a third straight Premier League victory and their best start to a top-flight campaign for a decade.
Victory propelled Everton to third in the table, level on points with second-placed Chelsea, while the misery mounted for Sunderland’s ex-Everton manager David Moyes. The struggling Wearsiders remain second bottom after accruing just a solitary point so far.
“I could have had five and I have to be more of a serial killer if I want to help the team to achieve its objective,” said Lukaku.
Everton boss Ronald Koeman, meanwhile, pulled no punches and expects European qualification from his side this season.
“I think we will be one of the teams that fight for European football,” said Koeman. “That’s a really realistic target. We need to fight for European football.”
In a first half short of goalmouth action, both sides were guilty of missing gilt-edged chances. First was the usually potent Jermain Defoe, who blazed over the bar after reacting quickest to a deflected shot which looped over the Everton defence.
The visitors were the next to threaten shortly before the quarter of an hour mark as Lukaku met Yannick Bolasie’s cross with a bullet header, only for rookie Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to produce a superb one-handed reaction save.
Lukaku netted his first of the evening on the hour as the Belgium frontman powered a downward header from Idrissa Gueye’s centre beyond Pickford. Buoyed by his strike, the former Chelsea hitman rattled the Sunderland crossbar moments later.
Everton doubled their lead on 68 minutes as the impressive Bolasie, a £25m summer signing, outpaced Sunderland full-back Javier Manquillo before standing a cross to the far post which Lukaku dispatched.
Lukaku completed his 11-minute treble moments later as he clinically swept past Pickford after being released by Kevin Mirallas following a slick Everton move.