The Unhappy One: No smiles as Lukaku scores again for United
By STEVE DOUGLAS
After his barren run in the Premier League, it's two goals in two games for Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku.
What he's yet to rediscover is the joy of scoring.
Lukaku scored the opening goal in United's 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday but refused to celebrate, instead looking stony-faced as he was mobbed by his teammates.
Just like after he scored the midweek winner against Bournemouth.
"Maybe he looks to the bench and sees his manager doesn't celebrate," United manager Jose Mourinho said, attempting an explanation for how Lukaku greeted his 27th-minute goal at The Hawthorns.
Then there was the fact he spent the 2012-13 season on loan at West Brom, even scoring a hat trick against United that year.
"Maybe he loves West Brom," Mourinho added. "Maybe he remembers the team that helped him early in his career."
Or maybe it was a riposte to the critics. Lukaku went 2 1/2 months scoring just one league goal before his strike against Bournemouth. He started the season with seven goals in his first seven league games.
Either way, Lukaku is back among the goals as second-place United heads into the busy festive period 11 points behind Manchester City, with 18 of 38 league games having been played.
Liverpool had no problem scoring against Bournemouth, either, in the other match on Sunday. The Reds won 4-0 on the south coast, with Mohamed Salah almost inevitably on the score sheet to move to 20 goals for the season before Christmas.
They moved up to fourth place ahead of a game against fifth-place Arsenal on Friday.
United has recovered from its damaging derby loss to Manchester City last weekend with hard-fought, back-to-back wins to stay in second place.
Like against Bournemouth, United did just enough to get the three points and can now welcome back midfield fulcrum Paul Pogba to the team after his three-game suspension.
Jesse Lingard following up Lukaku's opener with a goal in the 36th minute to put United 2-0 up.
West Brom finished the stronger and substitute Gareth Barry reduced the deficit in the 79th at a corner. The team still hasn't won in four games under new manager Alan Pardew and stayed in the relegation zone in 19th place.
United lost captain and right back Antonio Valencia to injury in the 66th minute.
With Sadio Mane rested, Liverpool's so-called "Fab Four" was missing a key member at Bournemouth. It didn't matter.
The other three - Salah, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino - scored along with center back Dejan Lovren at Vitality Stadium.
The Reds rebounded from back-to-back draws at Anfield - to Everton, then West Bromwich Albion - with another big away victory, having already won 5-1 at Brighton this month. They climbed above Burnley and Arsenal, and back into the Champions League qualification positions.
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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80
Updated December 17, 2017