EPL

Luton move out of the relegation zone with thumping victory against Brighton

By Sports Desk January 30, 2024

Luton scored twice in the opening two minutes and 17 seconds en route to a stunning 4-0 win against Brighton at Kenilworth Road.

Aided by a superb hat-trick from striker Elijah Adebayo, this was comfortably the hosts’ biggest Premier League win and their most commanding performance.

It was earned in swashbuckling style as they dismissed an insipid Brighton to move out of the relegation zone for the first time in nearly two months.

Chiedozie Ogbene also netted during a first half in which Roberto De Zerbi’s side simply could not cope with what came their way, a shadow of the team that won the corresponding fixture 4-1 on the opening weekend.

Luton made a start beyond manager Rob Edwards’ most rose-tinted expectations.

Adebayo headed his first after 19 seconds. Ogbene received the ball on the edge of the box and crossed to the far post towards Carlton Morris.

The Hatters captain, leaping determinedly above his marker, nodded back across goal to Adebayo, who got there before goalkeeper Jason Steele to convert.

Brighton barely had time to draw breath before it was two.

Albert Sambi Lokonga’s pinpoint pass dropped in behind the visitors’ defence, which had pushed up, leaving a straight race to the ball between Ogbene and Steele.

It was won comfortably by the fleet-footed Luton winger who toed it beyond the keeper and, with 137 seconds on the clock, poked into an empty goal to cap a breathtaking start.

Rarely, if ever, have Brighton under De Zerbi been so blown away as they were in the opening 25 minutes.

Jordan Clark came close to inflicting further damage when he cut in on his left foot and had a shot blocked by the legs of Steele.

By then, De Zerbi had already lost James Milner to injury, with any pre-game ploy to stymie Luton sinking into disarray.

The stats said Brighton had enjoyed 60 per cent possession but almost all of it had been in their own half, passing themselves in circles in a bid to navigate Luton’s ravenous high pressing.

Pascal Gross scooped a shot more in hope than expectation from outside the box as the Seagulls struggled to come to terms with their predicament.

Lewis Dunk stopped Adebayo with a finely-timed last-ditch slide inside the six-yard box as the striker bore down threatening to wrap the game up after 35 minutes, before Clark had his second good try of the night deflect inches wide.

It was a momentary reprieve.

Adebayo’s second and Luton’s third was a gem and owed everything to the timing of the striker’s run, hanging just behind Brighton’s defensive line until Ross Barkley released his pass.

The finish ripped past Steele at his near post.

Brighton had won three of their previous 15 league games, success this season season being propped up by progress in Europe and in the FA Cup.

Here, they showed nothing of the form that saw them start the campaign with five wins out of six.

Luton’s goals were getting easier to come by.

In the 55th minute Adebayo completed his hat-trick, heading in Alfie Doughty’s corner from amongst a static Brighton defence, the only movement towards the ball coming from striker Joao Pedro who inadvertently flicked it into his opposite number’s path.

Thomas Kaminski made a late save from Danny Welbeck which was worthy of his outfield team-mates’ efforts.

For Brighton, it had been a chastening night.

Related items

  • Shaw cops Goal of the Month prize in City's sweep of WSL March awards Shaw cops Goal of the Month prize in City's sweep of WSL March awards

    It was a memorable March for Jamaican international Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw and Manchester City in the Barclays Women’s Super League, as they completed a clean sweep of the league’s monthly awards.

    Shaw’s remarkable strike against Liverpool scooped the Goal of the Month prize, while her teammate Jess Park was named the WSL’s Player of the Month for the first time in her career. And with City winning all four of our league fixtures across March, it comes as no surprise that Gareth Taylor was also named Manager of the Month.

    In a performance of superlatives, it was Shaw’s spectacular first half strike against Liverpool that handed her the WSL Goal of the Month prize. On that goal, Shaw picked up play from Laura Coombs and cleverly flicked the ball around the onrushing Gemma Bonner to create space for a well-struck effort, from about 25 yards out, which nestled into the top corner of Liverpool’s net for her 18th goal of the WSL season.

    Shaw followed that up with a second half header, as she took another step towards this season’s Golden Boot.

    With five WSL goals in four games, the prolific 27-year-old striker was only just pipped to the Player of the Month award by her teammate Park, but the Jamaican would still reach another impressive milestone in her career to date during March.

    Indeed, her strike against Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium saw her surpass Georgia Stanway as the Club’s record goalscorer, with her tally now standing at 70 goals in just 83 appearances.