Luton's unbeaten run is ended by clinical Canaries

Championship: Norwich City 3 Luton Town 0

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 5:09 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th March 2021, 5:10 pm
Action from today's defeat for the Hatters at Norwich City

Luton s three game unbeaten run was ended by a classy and clinical performance from runaway Championship leaders Norwich City this afternoon.

Although the scoreline will look like a comfortable 90 minutes for the hosts, had Town taken their early chances, it might, just might have been a different outcome, but there should be no doubting the Canaries will be playing Premier League football next term, as some of their football was a joy to watch as they made it seven straight victories.

Hatters boss Nathan Jones made five changes from the 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, with James Collins, Luke Berry, George Moncur, Martin Cranie and Tom Ince all coming in for Elijah Adebayo, Glen Rea, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jordan Clark and Harry Cornick.

There was no place for Rea on the bench, although Joe Morrell was back among the substitutes along with Sam Nombe, whom Jones had declared needed to more in his pre-match press conference this week.

Although Norwich had the majority of possession early on, it was Luton who had the better chances, Moncur speeding down the left just as JJ O'Donnell had done at this venue some eight years ago in the FA Cup and crossing for Collins in a move that was reminiscent of the Hatters winner that day.

This time, Collins couldn't replicate Scott Rendell's effort though, turning it wide, although appealed vehemently for a corner, which wasn't given.

The forward then went even closer moments later, as Town won the ball high up again and Ince's cross-shot was met by Collins at full stretch, but from a few yards out his effort crashed back off the post when he had to score.

Luton were a whisker away on 10 minutes too, Matty Pearson producing some impudent trickery 20 yards from goal, beating his man with ease then going for the far corner, inches wide, Tim Krul clutching at thin air.

Despite Hatters' bright start, the Canaries went ahead with their first attack on 12 minutes, a quickfire move down the left saw Teemu Pukki afforded a tiny amount of space inside the area and he showed all his class to crash an unerring right footer into the top corner.

Emi Buendia tried to add to the hosts advantage, sending a free kick over from a good position, while then producing an air shot when found by Kenny McLean's dangerous delivery from the right.

Berry's header from a deep cross was easily handled by Krul, before Norwich then invited Town's press on to them, almost scored the most sizzling of counter-attack goals.

Cantwell sent Pukki clear, who dummied inside and from close range was denied by a superb save from Sluga, the keeper sticking out a strong right hand to deflect the shot away, Tunnicliffe hacking the loose ball behind.

Kal Naismith prevented a four on two situation from becoming anything too dangerous with a meaty clearance, before Pukki put a free header wide from Cantwell's left wing delivery.

With a few minutes to go until half time, the killer blow arrived though, as Norwich had a second, Buendia's shot deflecting into the path of Pukki who slid home his second of the afternoon despite the best efforts of Sluga.

Pukki went close to a first half hat-trick, and in some style, with an audacious scorpion-type flick tipped over the bar by the back-pedalling Sluga.

Trailing 2-0 at the break for the second weekend running, although in no way requiring the mass surgery as against Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday, Jones made one change for the second period, this time Clark on for Berry.

Cantwell threatened a third, hooking his volley wide as the Canaries made a bright start to proceedings, before Jones used his bench with an hour gone, Adebayo, Cornick and Mpanzu replacing Collins, Ince and Moncur.

The trio gave Luton more attacking thrust as they finally prevented City from having it all their own way, but were still unable to create that clear-cut opportunity which might have set up a grandstand finish.

Any hopes of an unlikely comeback then evaporated on 73 minutes as Buendia found the run of Cantwell and he advanced, cutting on to his right foot, slotting into the bottom corner via a slight deflection from the edge of the box.

Late on, Grant Hanley side-footed wide following a corner, with sub Kieran Dowell putting a header over and Jordan Hugill was wide, as Town now have a week off until next weekend's home clash with Swansea, following Tuesday night's clash against Rotherham being postponed due to the Millers players contracting coronavirus.

Canaries: Tim Krul, Max Aarons, Grant Hanley ©, Lukas Rupp (Jacob Sorenson 78), Todd Cantwell (Onel Hernandez 78), Emi Buendia (Kieran Dowell 82), Oliver Skipp, Teemu Pukki (Jordan Hugill 82), Kenny McLean (Adam Idah 86), Dimitiros Giannoulis, Ben Gibson.

Subs not used: Daniel Barden, Christoph Zimmermann, Mario Vrancic, Alex Terry.

Hatters: Simon Sluga, Martrin Cranie, Dan Potts, Matty Pearson (C), Kal Naismith, Jordan Tunnicliffe, Luke Berry (Jordan Clark 46), Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (James Bree 78), George Moncur (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 61), Tom Ince (Harry Cornick 61), James Collins (Elijah Adebayo 61).

Subs not used: James Shea, Danny Hylton, Sam Nombe, Joe Morrell.

Referee: David Webb.