Romelu Lukaku reaches landmark century as Alexis Sanchez finally shines
MANCHESTER, England -- Three thoughts on Manchester United 2-0 Swansea in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
1. Lukaku's landmark inspires United
Romelu Lukaku scored his 100th Premier League goal to help Manchester United to victory over Swansea at Old Trafford and in the process, keep his team on track to answer Jose Mourinho's challenge.
The United manager felt the need to defend his Old Trafford record again in his programme notes, insisting this is a club in "transition" who must show they are moving forward by finishing second this season. After Liverpool came from behind to beat Crystal Palace in the day's early game, United kicked off against Swansea in third. Lukaku's landmark goal after just five minutes ensured Mourinho's team were never going to be there come Saturday teatime.
The Belgian finished off a neat move that involved Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard and Alexis Sanchez to record his 26th goal of the season. There is little doubt the 24-year-old has been a success in his first season at Old Trafford. The £75 million fee is beginning to look like a snip in a world where Neymar is valued at close to £200m.
Sanchez got the second after 20 minutes, running on to Lingard's through ball. Lingard, starting in a central position behind Lukaku, was key to both first-half goals. He is making a strong case to inherit Zlatan Ibrahimovic's No.10 shirt next season.
For 20 minutes after half time, Swansea finally started to look dangerous. Tammy Abraham, on at the break, forced David De Gea into two good saves in the space of two minutes.
It was as close as the visitors came as United kept their 16th clean sheet of the season and took another step to securing the second-place finish Mourinho wants.
2. Finally, Sanchez turns up
Finally, a sight of the real Sanchez in a United shirt.
You could have argued before the game that with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial fit and available, Sanchez should have started on the bench.
Away with Chile during the international break, he admitted he has found it "difficult" since swapping the Emirates for Old Trafford in January. He was anonymous in two games against Sevilla as United crashed out of the Champions League. It was exactly the type of stage Sanchez was signed for -- a big name brought in to do it in the big games -- but in the end he only contributed to what was a shocking failure.
Mourinho has been consistent with his view that the 29-year-old will be much better next season. And if this was a glimpse of what is to come, United fans are right to be excited. Sanchez was involved in the first goal, receiving Lingard's pass in the penalty area before rolling the ball into Lukaku to score. He scored the second himself -- just his second in 11 games since his move -- after running in off the left touchline to take Lingard's pass in his stride and beat Lukasz Fabianski with an emphatic finish.
It was exactly the type of goal he scored at Arsenal -- the type that made him one of the Premier League's most feared forwards last season. It is a sight Mourinho will hope to see more of, particularly with a derby against Manchester City to come next weekend.
3. Swansea's fate will be decided elsewhere
Carlos Carvalhal has given Swansea hope of being a Premier League team next season but with 31 points from 31 games, they are still in trouble.
If Carvalhal was being honest, he would likely admit that anything his team got from Old Trafford would have been a bonus. The truth is that their fate this season will not be decided by a defeat away to Manchester United. They have more difficult games to come in the run in against Manchester City at the Etihad and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium.
But a trip to West Brom next week and a home game against Stoke on the final day of the season offer chances to get closer to the magical 40-point mark. It is likely Swansea won't need that many to guarantee their survival but they are in for a nervous few weeks.
Carvalhal can be pleased that his team didn't fold at Old Trafford despite going behind so early. The issue, though, is goals. They haven't scored enough this season and there will be a lot of responsibility on Andre Ayew -- and brother Jordan when he returns from suspension -- to help Swansea to at least a couple of more wins before May 13.
Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.