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Chelsea survive late Luton fightback

30 Dec 2023

Luton, England – Cole Palmer was the star of the show as Chelsea survived a late fightback from Luton Town to edge to a 3-2 victory at Kenilworth Road.

The midfielder scored twice while also supplying the assist for Noni Madueke’s second goal in as many games as Chelsea ended a four-match losing streak away from home. But it was a close-run thing as Luton fought back with two goals in the final 10 minutes through Ross Barkley and Elijah Adebayo and almost snatched an equaliser.

Mauricio Pochettino made one change, starting Madueke, the hero of their late win over Crystal Palace last time out. Luton also made one change, with Issa Kabore coming in for Ryan Giles.

Chelsea rewarded a bright start by opening the scoring for only the seventh time this season through Palmer in the 12th minute.

The midfielder pounced on a loose pass out from his area by former Manchester City team-mate Kabore to arrow a shot past Thomas Kaminski into the far corner for his seventh league goal of the season and Chelsea’s quickest strike of the season so far.

Madueke doubled Chelsea’s lead eight minutes before half-time with an emphatic finish at the near post. Chelsea swept through the Luton midfield, with Palmer finding Madueke, who advanced into the box and waited before smashing the ball past Kaminski with his right foot.

The second half followed the pattern of the first after Chelsea’s opener, Luton dominating with the ball but offering little threat.

Chelsea made it 3-0 in the 70th minute as Palmer scored his second of the match with great composure. The 21-year-old took the ball around Kaminski and poked it into the net before the Luton defenders could close him down.

Adebayo thought he gave Luton a lifeline four minutes later as he converted Alfie Doughty’s cross, but the goal was overturned after a VAR review because Doughty had been offside. That did not stop Luton as ex-Chelsea player Barkley flicked in in Doughty’s corner with 10 minutes to go.

It was now all Luton as Djordje Petrovic parried Carlton Morris’s header on to the bar from close range.

But less than a minute later, in the 87th minute, it was 3-2. Petrovic parried Doughty’s header, but only into the path of Adebayo to head in.

Chelsea were reeling and Luton continued to come close to scoring, but saw their crosses flash across goal but outside the reach of their attackers.

Chelsea held on for their third win in four matches, staying 10th but moving to 28 points, one point behind Newcastle United. Luton remain 18th on 15 points.

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