Match report: Luton 1 United 2

Sunday 18 February 2024 18:40

Rasmus Hojlund's early double was enough to give Manchester United a fifth straight victory in all competitions, although Luton Town pushed us all the way in our first league visit to Kenilworth Road in 32 years.

Hojlund capitalised on a defensive error to open the scoring after just 37 seconds and then chested home to leave us seemingly in cruise control.

Carlton Morris's header hoisted the Hatters right back into the encounter, however, and the hosts closed out the first half impressively.

United could and perhaps should have scored a third and decisive goal after the break but were left hanging on a little at the end, as Luton besieged our goal and struck the crossbar in the dying moments through Ross Barkley.

But, for the fourth consecutive league encounter, United tasted victory, as our chase for Champions League football gathers pace.

Casemiro hugs Hojlund after his quickfire double.


For the first time since 19 August, and the visit to Tottenham Hotspur, Erik ten Hag was able to field an unchanged side, with Luke Shaw passed fit after his injury scare at Aston Villa.

Before kick-off, the Dutchman spoke about the importance of consistent selection in establishing routines and it took no time at all for the in-form Reds to strike.

Casemiro’s hoik upfield was misjudged by Hatters defender Amari’i Bell, leaving Hojlund with a clear run through on goal.

The 21-year-old made no mistake in slotting past Kaminski as he scored once again in the Premier League, beating Joe Willock’s record as the youngest to register in six straight games in the competition.

United were all over the hosts, with Marcus Rashford’s deflected shot from distance batted away by Thomas Kaminski, but the Reds didn’t have to wait long for a second.

And it was that man again, as Hojlund casually diverted Alejandro Garnacho’s sighter into the far corner with his chest to put United 2-0 up, with just seven minutes on the clock – the quickest we’ve ever held such a lead in a Premier League away game.

But just as it appeared that a comfortable afternoon in Bedfordshire might be on the cards, Morris nodded former United winger Tahith Chong’s deflected shot beyond an advancing Andre Onana to halve the deficit and galvanise the Kenilworth Road crowd.

With half an hour gone, a mix-up at the back created an opening for Cauley Woodrow – in for Elijah Adebayo, who was injured in the warm-up – but Raphael Varane did well to block and Gabriel Osho’s header from the resulting corner was high, wide and handsome.

The home side were growing into the game, as Morris and then Alfie Doughty shot wide, and with Shaw unfortunately having to be replaced again due to injury, referee David Coote’s half-time whistle came at a welcome time for us to try and reset.

Rashford flies forward.


Casemiro and Harry Maguire, booked along with Shaw in the opening 45 minutes, were withdrawn at the break, as Ten Hag called upon Jonny Evans and last week’s hero Scott McTominay in a bid to re-establish our hold on the game.

McTominay couldn’t get out the way of Bruno Fernandes’s goalbound effort in his first real involvement, before Diogo Dalot was denied by Kaminski, who perhaps caught the Portugal international unawares with his positioning in response to Onana’s pinpoint pass.

The Belgian keeper got down well to prevent Rashford from restoring United’s two-goal lead, after our no.10 cleverly cut inside and lashed it with his left.

Kaminski then had Albert Sambi Lokonga to thank for keeping Fernandes at bay, as our skipper rounded the keeper and seemed set to bury the ball in an empty net. Somehow the Arsenal loanee extended his leg and made a timely block, before Garnacho was the latest Red to be halted when clean through, first by Kaminski’s hand and then Bell’s foot.

The chances continued to flow, as Fernandes tested Kaminski from a free-kick and a frustrated Garnacho curled an effort that was destined for the top corner, only to be deflected behind.

Onana tries to take the sting out of the game.

As we headed into the final 15 minutes of a relentlessly quick-paced game, the Hatters’ direct style of play was still posing questions at the other end, with Doughty regularly drilling threatening-looking crosses in from the left and Evans standing firm, alongside Varane.

Varane and Fernandes played a part in stymying Osho’s shot after Morris’s flick-on and, less than a minute later, Hojlund’s hat-trick hopes were quashed by the impressive Kaminski.

The Dane was replaced by Sofyan Amrabat for the closing stages, as Ten Hag attempted to shut up shop, and Fernandes could have settled proceedings had he been a few inches to the right with his sighter.

There was still four minutes of stoppage time to see out, however, and hearts were in mouths when Barkley connected with a corner – thankfully the former Everton man’s header clipped the top of the woodwork and went over.

The final whistle sounded shortly after, and United’s momentum continues, as we move to within three points of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

Celebrating another vital three points.


United: Onana; Dalot, Varane, Maguire (Evans 46), Shaw (Lindelof 45+2); Mainoo, Casemiro (McTominay 46); Garnacho, Fernandes (c), Rashford; Hojlund (Amrabat 86).

Subs not used: Bayindir, Eriksen, Amad, Antony, Forson.

Booked: Shaw, Casemiro, Maguire, Mainoo, Lindelof

Scorers: Hojlund 1, 7

Luton: Kaminski; Mengi, Osho, Bell; Ogbene, Sambi Lokonga, Barkley, Doughty (Berry 81); Chong (Townsend 68), Morris; Woodrow (Clark 68).

Subs not used: Krul, Potts, Berry, Kabore, Burke, Mpanzu, Nelson.

Booked: Woodrow, Townsend, Osho

Scorers: Morris 14