Valiant Luton are virtually relegated from the Premier League after West Ham defeat

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Premier League: West Ham 3 Luton Town 1

Luton will surely be playing Championship football again next term as their attempts at taking the Premier League relegation battle into the final week of the season were ended by a rampant second half performance from West Ham United this afternoon.

Leading 1-0 at the break, the Hatters looked like they might be able to entertain Fulham next weekend with something meaningful hanging on it, but then as has happened against AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool in recent weeks, the visitors were simply blown away when their hosts, for whom it was manager David Moyes' final home game in charge, turned on the style in the second 45 minutes.

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Although Town are now still only three points behind fourth bottom Nottingham Forest, with a goal difference of minus 13 then the Hatters' adventure in the Premier League appears realistically over after just one campaign. Town named an unchanged side from the 1-1 draw with Everton, although they were able to welcome Chiedozie Ogbene back to the bench for the first time in seven matches, allowing Rob Edward to finally have just one goalkeeper on the bench.

Teden Mengi reacts to Luton's 3-1 defeat at West Ham this afternoon - pic: Alex Davidson/Getty ImagesTeden Mengi reacts to Luton's 3-1 defeat at West Ham this afternoon - pic: Alex Davidson/Getty Images
Teden Mengi reacts to Luton's 3-1 defeat at West Ham this afternoon - pic: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Despite the magnitude of the occasion, Luton didn't show any signs of nerves, having over 70 percent possession in the opening stages, and they made it count on just six minutes when Elijah Adebayo sprinted away on the left, seeing his shot charged down. The forward found Alfie Doughty with the rebound, whose cross was met by a flying Sambi Lokonga to power a thumping header beyond Alphonse Areola for his maiden Luton goal and his first anywhere since scoring for Anderlecht back in April 2021.

The hosts reacted well to going behind, Gabe Osho and Teden Mengi getting in a muddle at the back, Mohammad Kudus sending an angled shot wide when he should have at least worked Thomas Kaminski. West Ham went close again, Fred Onyedinma this time giving the ball away and the creative hub that was Lucas Paqueta firing in a cross that 20-goal forward Jarrod Bowen steered against the outside of the post.

An open game saw Town try and regain the initiative, Onyedinma setting off on a driving run that was ended by Kurt Zouma's well-judged tackle inside the box, the centre half then in the right place to stop Adebayo having a tap in from Doughty's dinked cross. Although they had nothing to play for, the hosts had a real spell of pressure, Osho doing excellently not to turn the ball in from a few yards out after a dangerous low cross and Kudus sending a curler over the bar on the half hour mark.

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Tomas Soucek had a go from distance too, Kaminski easily able to collect, as with everything having gone right for Luton in the opening 40 minutes, they had their first bump in the road when Ross Barkley forced off with an injury just before the break, Jordan Clark on in his place. Michail Antonio hammered waywardly off target, as after the interval, Town looked to have navigated the early stages successfully but were then breached on 54 minutes as an ambitious ball out to the wing by Clark was cut out, allowing Bowen free to drive into the box.

His cross repelled by the legs of Kaminski, James Ward-Prowse firing the rebound into the bottom corner. With the London Stadium making the most noise it had all afternoon, West Ham belatedly upped the tempo, Doughty's back header straight at Bowen who could only nod into the gloves of Kaminski, the keeper then smartly gathering Antonio's header. The Belgian made his best save moments later, twisting in mid-air to claw Antonio's next attempt away, Bowen putting the loose ball into the side-netting.

Now looking like they could score every time they attacked, only a wonderful block by Doughty prevented Emerson from doing so. Although a point might have been enough to keep Luton’s hopes of staying up alive, United won corner after corner and eventually made one pay on 65 minutes when Town thought they had cleared the danger only for Chong to lose out when looking to run the ball clear. Ward-Prowse's latest incisive cross was headed out to Soucek who expertly volleyed into the bottom corner.

The Hammers ought to have wrapped the points up on 69 minutes as the impressive Kudus was found completely unmarked in the area, but although looking for all the world like he was going to ripple the net, somehow clipped the outside of the woodwork. High on confidence, Vladimir Coufal tried an audacious volley from 35 yards that flew over, as Luton finally were able to bring on Ogbene with 18 minutes to go.

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As soon as he was introduced though, the hosts moved 3-1 ahead to put what appeared the final nail in Luton's coffin. Kudus, who had got more and more influential as the half progressed, getting to the byline and his cut back was turned home by sub George Earthy with pretty much his first touch on 76 minutes. Now knowing they needed three goals in a little over a quarter of an hour, Town almost pulled one back when Carlton Morris won Doughty's cross, but Areola was out with his legs ahead of Clark.

Luton couldn't get the head of steam they needed to do so, Kaminski preventing Bowen adding a fourth as the final whistle brought the curtain down on the visitors' chance of remaining in the top flight, with an emotional Edwards spending a lengthy period of time in front of the visiting Town supporters knowing that they are almost certainly back in the second tier once more next season.

Hammers: Alphonse Areola, Kurt Zouma (C), Vladimir Coufal, James Ward-Prowse, Michail Antonio (George Earthy 75), Lucas Paqueta (Danny Ings 84), Mohammed Kudus, Jarrod Bowen, Angelo Ogbonna (Kaelan Casey 90), Tomas Soucek, Emerson (Aaron Creswell 84). Subs not used: Lukasz Fabianski, Ben Johnson, Maxwel Cornet, Edson Alvarez, Divin Mubama.

Hatters: Thomas Kaminski, Fred Onyedinma (Chiedozie Ogbene 73), Reece Burke (Luke Berry 86), Teden Mengi, Gabe Osho, Alfie Doughty (Cauley Woodrow 86), Sambi Lokonga, Ross Barkley (Jordan Clark 40), Tahith Chong, Carlton Morris (C), Elijah Adebayo. Subs not used: Tim Krul, Joe Johnson, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Daiki Hashioka. Referee: Michael Oliver. Booked: Barkley 10, Emerson 52, Burke 79, Morris 83.

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