Report | Hatters fall to defeat at the Etihad


After 65 seconds you feared the worst.

Erling Haaland streaked clear of the Town defence and after a fantastic save from Thomas Kaminski Haaland’s wayward shot hit Daiki Hashioka in the face and the Hatters’ task of keeping the champions at bay was over almost over before it had started.

Yet this side, as they have proved so often this season, are made of stern stuff. Observers, and City supporters, sat and waited for the floodgates to open – but the Town were resolute and dogged in the face of a constant wave of attacks by the reigning world, Europe and English champions.

A string of excellent saves from Thomas Kaminski, the woodwork and blocks from the disciplined teammates in front of him made City work for their three points.

For all their possession Pep Guardiola’s side could not force home a second before the break and the Town got to half-time only a goal down as their rearguard stood firm.

After the restart the Hatters continued to dig in and frustrate their hosts who were wayward in their finishing.

However the Town’s resistance and the host’s frustration was broken on 64 minutes when Mateo Kovacic unleashed a wonderful half-volley from just inside the penalty area giving Kaminski no chance.

The second goal brought the Hatters to life, and two minutes after going 2-0 down, substitute Cauley Woodrow rattled the woodwork after taking Fred Onyedinma’s square pass.

With a quarter-of-an-hour left the score remained respectable but City had other ideas and Jeremy Doku – electric all afternoon – was clipped in the box by Onyedinma and Haaland sent Kaminski the wrong way from the spot.

Moments later Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu was introduced to make a milestone 400th appearance in Town colours and within three minutes of his introduction the Hatters were back in it when Ross Barkley finished well on his left foot to score his fifth of the season having pounced on a rare loose City pass.

That goal only encouraged City further and two goals in the closing stages added gloss to a dominant home display. Firstly, with three minutes left, Doku got the goal his performance deserved when finishing well after a slalom run down the left before Josko Gvardiol lashed home a fine fifth in injury time.

As ever come the final whistle the Town headed for their massed ranks of supporters who had stayed until the very end. The reception, for a side having just been on the end of a 5-1 defeat, was a testament to the players’ efforts on a tough afternoon.

Bigger games than this lie ahead – starting at home to Brentford next Saturday.

With five games to go, just one point keeps the Hatters outside the relegation zone.

Therefore, in spite of their biggest defeat of the campaign, optimism reins.

See you next week.

Come on Luton.

Town: Kaminski; Onyedinma (sub Johnson 88), Doughty, Hashioka, Burke; Barkley, Berry (sub Mpanzu 77), Clark (sub Nelson 88); Chong, Townsend (sub Woodrow 59), Morris.

Subs not used: Shea, Krul, Harris, Chigozie, Piesold.

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