The Hatters gave a strong account of themselves against top-flight opposition as they fell to a 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea began as expected, dominating possession as both sides got to grips with the snow laden south-west London pitch.
Having picked a strong team, Frank Lampard’s side created the first opportunity of the game, as Hakim Ziyech sent Tammy Abraham in behind with Hatters record signing Simon Sluga racing out to the edge of his box to intercept.
After a steady opening ten minutes, Chelsea took the lead after a quick throw down the right found Timo Werner, swiftly pulling back to Abraham who slotted home past Sluga. Luton’s protests were waved away by referee David Coote, despite there clearly being two balls on the pitch when the throw-in was taken.
Six minutes later and England international Abraham had his second of the game. This time it was fellow international Reece James who provided the assist, with Abraham rising highest on the edge of the six-yard box to meet James’ floated cross from the right.
As the clock struck thirty minutes, the Hatters began to grow into the game with a spell of possession in the Chelsea half that finished with James Bree receiving possession down the right, pulling back to Jordan Clark who fired in a low half-volley that was fumbled by Chelsea ‘Keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Town continued to grow into the game as the half wore on, looking more comfortable in possession and denying their Premier League opponents any sight of goal. Luton went into the half-time break having halved the deficit and with everything to play for in the second half.
Nathan Jones made one change at the break, with Dan Potts replacing Glen Rea, moving Kal Naismith forward and Mpanzu higher up the pitch behind frontman Harry Cornick.
Chelsea started the second period brightly, creating the first opportunity of the half. The Blues once again found James overlapping down the right, who fired in a low cross that USA international Christian Pulisic fired straight at Sluga.
After an extended spell of Chelsea pressure, Arrizabalaga denied Cornick the opportunity to equalise. Substitute Dan Potts broke away down the left, with Mpanzu finding Cornick who’s 1v1 effort was saved by Chelsea’s stopper.
Nathan Jones introduced the trio of James Collins, Luke Berry and Kazenga LuaLua on the hour mark as the Hatters continued to more than match their top-flight opponents.
Chelsea substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi was causing problems for the Hatters down their right-flank, chipping a ball into Abraham who headed just wide.
Moments later and Chelsea restored their two-goal lead after great work down the left. Abraham tapped in from close range for his hattrick after sublime play from Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour down the left flank.
As the time ticked down, Timo Werner was clipped in the box by Luton goal scorer Jordan Clark as Chelsea caught the Hatters out on the counter. The former Leipzig man’s subsequent penalty was saved brilliantly by Sluga, giving the Hatters a glimmer of hope going into the final minutes.
Despite being unable to pull a goal back in the closing stages, the Hatters performed admirably and will have plenty of positives to take into next weekend’s Championship clash with Blackburn.
Town: Sluga, Bree (LuaLua 60), Lockyer, Rea (Potts 45), Bradley (C), Naismith (Moncur 75), Dewsbury-Hall, Mpanzu, Tunnicliffe (Berry 60), Clark, Cornick (Collins 60)
Goals: Clark (30)
Subs not used: Shea, Hylton, Lee, Nombe.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, James, Zouma, Christensen, Emerson, Mount (C) (Kovacic 84), Gilmour, Ziyech (Havertz 77), Werner, Pulisic (Hudson-Odoi 70), Abraham (Giroud 77)
Goals: Abraham (11,17,74)
Subs not used: Caballero, Rudiger, Jorginho, Chilwell, Azpilicueta.