Manchester United once again reinforced their Premier League title credentials with a stunning late surge to ruin Wayne Rooney’s return to Old Trafford with a crushing 4-0 win over the Toffees on Sunday.
After spending 13 trophy-laden years with the Red Devils, Rooney departed for Everton in the summer and his presence was met by a vociferous roar by the home and away support both.
Once the game started, however, it all went downhill for Rooney and Everton as United took the lead quickly via a thunderbolt strike from Antonio Valencia.
The Ecuadorian right-back, captaining United as Michael Carrick was on the bench, got the sweetest of connections on Nemanja Matic’s cross to give Jordan Pickford no chance whatsoever in the 4th minute.
United took control of the game after their early opener and while the Toffees posed a threat on the counter, David de Gea was a virtual spectator in the first-half.
In fact, the Red Devils should have doubled their lead when an Everton mistake saw Lukaku go through on goal but the Belgian contrived to put his shot off target, much to the dismay of the home crowd.
The second-half began with Everton in the ascendancy and the away side had a few chances, but de Gea stood firm to deny them.
Rooney, like a man on a mission, was trying his best but while his effort was undeniable, his end product was wanting, much to the relief of the home crowd.
Mourinho knew his side’s slender lead could evaporate quickly and after last week’s 2-2 draw at Stoke, the Portuguese tactician was keen to avoid a repeat.
He sent on Jesse Lingard for Marcus Rashford on the hour-mark and the United Academy graduate was bright from the moment he was introduced.
United kept pressing and came close to doubling their lead when Juan Mata’s free-kick hit the post in the 65th minute but it was not until Ander Herrera’s introduction thirteen minutes from time that enabled United to put daylight between themselves and their opponents.
Paul Pogba’s injury had seen Marouane Fellaini get his first league start and while Herrera must have been seething inwardly at his non-start, the Spaniard put in a tidy performance which allowed his teammates to express themselves.
Romelu Lukaku, up against his former club for the first time since his £75 million move in the summer, turned provider for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the 83rd minute after a sweeping counter attack caught Everton cold.
Lukaku then grabbed his seventh goal in as many matches in a United jersey in the 89th minute before substitute Anthony Martial completed the scoreline after winning and scoring a penalty in injury-time.
Not a perfect United performance from any angle but not for the first time this season, the Red Devils ground out a win which is the hallmark of a title-winning side and along with arch-rivals Manchester City, remain the only teams that are still unbeaten in the Premier League.
The derby rivals are jointly-topping the league with 13 points from five games, with both sides enjoying a healthy goal difference of +14. United host Burton Albion in the League Cup on Wednesday before travelling to Southampton for a Premier League fixture on Saturday night.
Earlier on Sunday, 10-man Chelsea held Arsenal to a 0-0 draw to remain in third place with 10 points.
For Everton, despite an encouraging display after their home capitulation against Tottenham Hotspur last week, the signs are grim and the fact that they are in the relegation zone will not sit well with their fans.
The Toffees, who have lost their last four games, host Sunderland in the League Cup and will be desperate to avoid an upset and will then host Bournemouth on Saturday in the Premier League.