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Cole has Luton in palm of his hands

Cole Palmer celebrates second goal for Chelsea against Luton Town

 

Cole Palmer celebrates second goal for Chelsea against Luton Town

Chelsea ended a run of four successive Premier League (PL) away defeats by beating Luton Town 3-2 in a thriller at Kenilworth Road that saw Mauricio Pochettino’s men come inches away from squandering a three-goal lead.

The Blues, who are now unbeaten in their final league game of the calendar year since 2011 (W8, D4), set their stall out early as Noni Madueke tested Thomas Kaminski inside the opening five minutes. The Belgian goalkeeper was in action again shortly afterwards to deny Nicolas Jackson. In trying to clear their lines, Luton’s Issa Kaboré’s wayward pass picked out Cole Palmer, and the Englishman rifled into the far corner for the opener.

After a period of pressure from the Hatters failed to bear fruit, Chelsea showed a clinical edge that has been lacking in 2023, countering at speed to double their advantage. Madueke received the ball on the right from Palmer, and after shuffling the ball onto his weaker foot, the winger slammed high into the net at the near post to score his first Blues goal from open play.

The introduction of Tahith Chong and Chiedozie Ogbene at the interval certainly injected extra impetus into the hosts’ display, but creating chances was another matter entirely. Đorđe Petrović remained a spectator for large periods, even as Chong’s low cross rattled across the face of goal without a touch from a Luton attacker. And the Hatters’ toothlessness in front of goal would soon be punished by another lethal Chelsea attack. Slotted through by Jackson, the ever-impressive Palmer rounded Kaminski and showed exceptional composure to keep the ball under his spell in the face of multiple challenges before slotting home his second.

Rob Edwards’ men never wilted, though, as Elijah Adebayo struck the bar from point-blank range before Ross Barkley headed home what appeared to be a consolation in the 80th minute. Carlton Morris then followed in his strike partner’s footsteps in heading against the woodwork, before Adebayo slammed home the rebound after Alfie Doughty was brilliantly denied by Petrović to sensationally reduce the deficit to one. The visitors were stunned, and Luton’s pressure was relentless, but Chelsea finally held firm to end 2023 on a high while preventing the Hatters from escaping the relegation zone in the process.

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