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Lukaku on target as Roma smash seven past Empoli

MILAN (AFP) – Romelu Lukaku scored his first Roma goal in Sunday’s 7-0 demolition of Empoli, his new team’s first win of the Serie A season.

Belgium forward Lukaku rolled in Roma’s sixth in the 82nd minute of a dominating performance in which talisman Paulo Dybala also got off the mark for the season with a brace.

Strikes from Renato Sanches, Bryan Cristante and Gianluca Mancini, as well as a comical Albert Grassi own goal ensured a rout against pointless, goalless and rock-bottom Empoli which moved Roma out of the relegation zone and up to 12th on four points.

“It’s obviously important for strikers to score goals,” said coach Jose Mourinho to DAZN.

“It was perfect for him as he scores in front his fans and he leaves the field happy.

“He needs to feel loved and wanted. He’s come here and he felt immediately that the team needed him.”

Lukaku made his first start alongside Dybala in an attack built to help Roma qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2018.

On loan from Chelsea, Lukaku made a substitute appearance in Roma’s loss to AC Milan before the international break and had a largely low key evening against Empoli apart from his simple finish from Andrea Belotti’s pass. Only 35 seconds had passed when Sebastian Walukiewicz handled Rasmus Kristensen’s cross. Dybala rammed home his first goal of the campaign from the penalty spot. Kristensen was key again when Sanches doubled the hosts’ lead in the eighth minute, swinging in another cross from which the unmarked Portugal international guided home a perfect header.

Lukaku was involved in Roma’s bizarre third, laying off to Cristante before Bartosz Bereszynski whacked the ball off his Empoli teammate Grassi and watched the ball drift into his own goal.

Dybala netted his sublime second 10 minutes after the break when he collected Cristante’s pass, sent Sebastiano Luperto packing with a feint and rolled in a cool finish. The Argentina forward would have ended the night with a hat-trick had his free-kick not thwacked the crossbar moments before he was substituted in the 64th minute. The match seemed to be rolling towards an otherwise uneventful end but Cristante started a late flurry in the 79th minute when he drove home Roma’s fifth from long range.

The stage was set for Lukaku to lap up the applause of fans who swamped an airport to greet his arrival in Rome last month. A Mancini header wrapped up the scoring with four minutes remaining.

Roma’s Romelu Lukaku celebrates with his teammates during a Serie A football match against Empoli, at Rome’s Olympic stadium, Italy. PHOTO: AFP
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