Lukaku's first Champions League game since leaving United panned by critics
Plenty has been made of Manchester United’s relative lack of striking options following the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter without the arrival of a replacement.
Lukaku made his Champions League bow at the San Siro last night and once more showed the limitations that meant he was never going to be a Manchester United striker.
We’ve taken a look at how he got on – as well as Alexis Sanchez – and how Inter’s stuttering start – they drew 1-1 at home to Slavia Prague – may impact Borussia Dortmund, home of reported (The Sun) United transfer target Jadon Sancho.
Lukaku struggled and was slated in the press
Lukaku started the match up front, playing the full 90 minutes but proving unable to find the back of the net as Inter scraped a draw during stoppage time of what should be, on paper, their easiest group match.
La Gazzetta dello Sport handed him a 4.5/10 match rating, while Corriere dello Sport, TuttoMercatoWeb and Corriere della Sera all gave him a 5.
His WhoScored stats don’t make good reading. Just 27 touches, a 47.1 per cent pass accuracy, two unsuccessful touches and a dispossession to go with his two offsides. It’s a familiar picture.
In TMW’s report summarising the player ratings he was described as looking ‘heavy’ – something United fans saw on more than one occasion, showing once more that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was right to let him leave.
Alexis Sanchez didn’t even play
Sanchez was an unused substitute despite the fact that Inter were playing at home against a side they were expected to beat and then had to chase the game in the closing stages.
Substitute Nicolo Barella got the late equaliser, so Sanchez had to watch on while a player preferred to him as an option off the bench did the business.
Sanchez may not yet be fully fit – but if so, why was he on the bench? It’s not a great start if Antonio Conte won’t even throw him on in search of a goal.
Lukaku missed the chance to potentially do United a favour
As we pointed out on Monday, Lukaku and Sanchez – very indirectly – do United a favour if they contrive to knock Borussia Dortmund into the Europa League.
That may well aid United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho, who may find it more palatable to leave one club in Europe’s secondary competition to join another.
On paper, the group is still wide open with Inter, Dortmund and Barcelona all on one point, but Inter have blown a big chance to get ahead by drawing their simplest match in theory.
Sancho and Dortmund would have beaten Barca were it not for a Marco Reus missed penalty and Inter’s result will only further boost their confidence over remaining in the Champions League beyond the group stage.
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