Adebayo bags a memorable hat-trick as superb Luton thrash Brighton

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Premier League: Luton Town 4 Brighton & Hove Albion 0

Striker Elijah Adebayo scored the Hatters' first hat-trick in the top flight since September 1990 on a quite amazing evening at Kenilworth Road as they blew high-flying Brighton & Hove Albion away, scoring four at this level for the first time just over 34 years.

What was already a fantastic opening to the night saw Town announce Japan international Daiki Hashioka as their new signing ahead of kick-off, before captain Tom Lockyer then made an emotional first return to Kenilworth Road since his cardiac arrest at AFC Bournemouth back in December, going on a lap of applause ahead of kick-off.

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Taking that groundswell of good feeling into the game, as having made three changes, Thomas Kaminski, Gabe Osho and Jordan Clark returning for Tim Krul, Teden Mengi and Andros Townsend, the hosts made a quite magnificent to the game, ahead after just 18 seconds, with one of the quickest goals in Premier League history.

Luton striker Elijah Adebayo wheels away after making it 3-0 against Brighton - pic: Liam SmithLuton striker Elijah Adebayo wheels away after making it 3-0 against Brighton - pic: Liam Smith
Luton striker Elijah Adebayo wheels away after making it 3-0 against Brighton - pic: Liam Smith

It was as simple as they come too, Chiedozie Ogbene swinging in a cross from the right, which saw Carlton Morris nod down and the unmarked Adebayo glance his header into the net, just before he got clattered by keeper Jason Steele. If that wasn't enough, Town went and made it 2-0 with just two minutes on the clock, a goal that visiting keeper Steele won't want to see again, as he came racing out to try and beat Ogbene to Sambi Lokonga's raking pass over the top.

He really shouldn't have bothered as the winger easily got there first and was able to walk the ball into the empty net, set off on a kneeslide, sending a breathless Kenilworth Road into dreamland.

Brighton tried to not let the early deficit get to them, Danny Welbeck just unable to reach a low cross at the back post, a corner routine seeing Pascal Gross over the top from 20 yards, while Welbeck dragged off target having been found by Joao Pedro, booed throughout for his Watford connections. With the Seagulls starting to look ominous, Luton regained the initiative, Reece Burke responding to the crowd's pleas to shoot, winning a corner which Morris could only glance wide.

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Midway through the half, some lovely vision from Ross Barkley freed Clark in the area, who cut on to his left, denied by a sharp stop from Steele. Town continued to look the more likely in the closing stages, forcing a whole host of set-pieces, but despite some searching deliveries from Doughty, and Clark have an effort deflect off target, the Seagulls were able to resist conceding a potentially clinching third.

They couldn't for long though, as Luton did go into the interval with a thoroughly deserved 3-0 advantage on 43 minutes, slicing through the away defence with a devastating ruthlessness. Barkley nipped in to win the ball back high, and within a flash had sent Adebayo away who easily sidefooted past the advancing Steele to double his tally for the evening.

Brighton looked a million miles away from the team who put four past the Hatters on the opening day and five past Sheffield United at the weekend, Billy Gilmour's hopeful volley summing up their woeful first half. Rather than sit on their lead, Luton came out with the clear intent to put the game completely beyond their opponents in the early stages of the second period, Ogbene's low attempt easy for Steele.

The Brighton keeper was then picking the ball out of his net on 50 minutes when he parried Morris's shot, only for Clark to turn home the loose ball.An offside flag was belatedly raised, and a VAR check quickly stopped Luton's play-off hero from having a first Premier League goal to add to his scrapbook.

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There was no intervention required by the officials at Stockley Park on 56 minutes though when Doughty sent over a corner that flicked off the head of Pedro for Adebayo to nod home from a matter of yards and complete his quite sensational treble. Eager for a clean sheet to round off the perfect night, Thomas Kaminski made sure of that when a strong stop from Welbeck, Tariq Lamptey volleying into the side-netting, before the Belgian made a remarkable save with his head from the ensuing corner.

Luton still sensed a fifth, Barkley picking out Morris this time, his drive was beaten away by Steele, the duo's last action as Town brought on their two Everton heroes, in Luke Berry and Cauley Woodrow. Four minutes were added on by the officials, which have been nerve-jangling affairs during Hatters’ four Premier League wins so far this term, but this time it was anything but, the Hatters able to relax and finally enjoy the added on period.

The night was rounded off by Everton’s goalless draw at Fulham, which meant Town finished the night outside of the relegation zone, a point above the Toffees and now just one behind Nottingham Forest who lost 2-1 at home to Arsenal, also with a game in hand.

Hatters: Thomas Kaminski, Chiedozie Ogbene, Reece Burke, Gabe Osho, Amari'i Bell, Alfie Doughty, Ross Barkley (Luke Berry 82), Sambi Lokonga (Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu 68) Jordan Clark (Andros Towsend 68), Elijah Adebayo (Tahith Chong 71), Carlton Morris (C Cauley Woodrow 83). Subs not used: Tim Krul, Dan Potts, Zack Nelson, Joe Johnson.

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Seagulls: Jason Steele, Jan Paul van Hecke, Lewis Dunk, Igor, James Milner (Jack Hinshelwood 20), Pascal Groß, Billy Gilmour (Carlos Baleba 61) Pervis Estupiñán (Tariq Lamptey 46), Buonanotte (Evan Ferguson 46), João Pedro (Jakub Moder 71), Danny Welbeck. Subs not used: Bart Verbruggen, Adam Webster, Adam Lallana, Benicio Baker-Boaitey. Referee: Rob Jones. Booked: Estupinan 12, Lokonga 25, Clark 65, Baleba 73. Attendance: 10,994 (1,044 Seagulls).