EPL

Five-star Manchester City blow away Luton to return to the Premier League summit

By Sports Desk April 13, 2024

Champions Manchester City moved back to the top of the Premier League with an emphatic 5-1 victory over relegation battlers Luton on Saturday.

A fortuitous early own goal from Daiki Hashioka set the hosts on the way at the Etihad Stadium before a Mateo Kovacic screamer and Erling Haaland penalty effectively secured victory after the break.

Plucky Luton defended stoically throughout and earned consolation through Ross Barkley but Jeremy Doku and Josko Gvardiol wrapped up the scoring.

The result took City above Arsenal and Liverpool at the summit, putting pressure on their title rivals ahead of Sunday’s fixtures.

Victory was almost as routine as it comes, with City not getting anywhere near top gear in a one-sided cruise.

Rodri got his wish for a rest as Pep Guardiola made six changes following Tuesday’s pulsating draw at Real Madrid.

With the Spanish giants visiting the Etihad next week, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva and John Stones also sat out – the latter not even in the matchday squad – while goalkeeper Ederson replaced Stefan Ortega.

Kevin De Bruyne returned after illness while Kyle Walker was on the bench after recovering from injury.

Luton’s task was daunting enough without the outrageous slice of misfortune that saw them concede the opener inside two minutes.

Thomas Kaminski did well to save after Haaland had been played through by De Bruyne and Doku’s follow-up was also blocked.

Haaland had City’s third attempt as the ball looped up but his acrobatic volley was heading well wide until it took a huge deflection off Hashioka’s head and ended up in the net.

With the luckless Hashioka requiring treatment from the forceful blow, it was apparent the Hatters were facing a long afternoon.

Yet, to the battling visitors’ credit, they defended with great determination.

Kaminski parried a powerful effort from Gvardiol before saving comfortably from Matheus Nunes, De Bruyne and Ruben Dias.

Haaland put over a chance at the back post and Nunes shaved the upright with an effort that ran across goal.

De Bruyne forced a good save from Kaminski just before the interval and Dias sent a long-range effort narrowly wide early in the second half.

Julian Alvarez also missed the target with a shot on the turn but City finally doubled the lead with a Kovavic thunderbolt just after the hour.

The Croatian had a first strike deflected wide but made no mistake from the resulting corner, hitting an unstoppable effort as the ball bounced along the edge of the area.

Luton responded with their first meaningful attack, and Fred Onyedinma pulled the ball back for Cauley Woodrow, but the substitute fired against the bar.

It proved a short-lived foray into City territory, with normal service soon resumed and Doku winning a penalty after tricking and being brought down by Onyedinma.

Haaland calmly sent Kaminski the wrong way to register his 31st goal of the season but only his second in six outings.

Barkley robbed Nunes to pull one back but City, despite taking off a frustrated-looking De Bruyne, finished with a flourish.

Doku claimed their fourth after weaving through the area in the 87th minute and Gvardiol followed up his fine strike against Real with another stunner in time added on.

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