Romelu Lukaku is confident his season is now up and running after blasting his way back into goalscoring form with a match-winning hat-trick at Sunderland.
The Belgium international had gone 1,139 minutes without a Premier League goal – a run stretching back to March – when he struck for the first time at the Stadium of Light on his way to an 11-minute treble in Everton’s 3-0 win on Monday night.
Now the 23-year-old is hoping that impressive showing is just the start, telling Everton TV: “I am back in business now.
“Physically I needed one more week (before the international break) but I’m happy, I’ve got the goals flowing now.
“I’m back in business and I want to help my team-mates as much as I can to achieve our objectives.”
Manager Ronald Koeman challenged his players to secure European football after seeing them take their tally for the season to 10 points from a possible 12 on Wearside.
LISTEN: European football is a ‘realistic’ target for Everton if the players fulfil their potential – Koeman
However, it proved to be a frustrating start to the evening for the Dutchman, who was less than impressed with what he saw before the break.
Lukaku said: “In the first half, everybody was running through the middle and we made it easy for Sunderland. We didn’t capitalise on possession, the last pass wasn’t there but the defence was brilliant, like they have been since the start of the season.
“But in the second half, we made the pitch big, everyone was playing their position and we created so many chances. It showed what we can do. If we exploit the spaces on the pitch, we can do a lot of good things.”
Lukaku headed his side in front from Idrissa Gueye’s cross on the hour and doubled his tally within eight minutes with Yannick Bolasie providing the ammunition. The former Chelsea striker then completed his hat-trick with an assured 71st-minute finish from Kevin Mirallas’ through-ball.
That ensured he headed back across the Pennines with the match ball, although its journey is not yet over.
Lukaku said: “Next time I go home for international duty, I’ll give it to my mum and she’s going to keep it.”
While victory saw Everton climb to third place in the table, two points behind leaders Manchester City, it left the Black Cats off the bottom only on goal difference with a return of a single point from the opening four games.