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HomefootballManchester City return to winning ways with 2-1 victory over Luton

Manchester City return to winning ways with 2-1 victory over Luton

England: Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish scored three minutes apart as Manchester City came from behind to beat Premier League newcomers Luton Town 2-1 on Sunday and breathe a collective sigh of relief with their first victory in five league games.

The win kept the champions — who were missing striker Erling Haaland through injury — in fourth place on 33 points, four shy of leaders Liverpool in a crowded title fight. Luton remain in the drop zone on nine points, four adrift of 17th place.

“Great performance after what happened in (recent) results,” City manager Pep Guardiola told the BBC. “We conceded the goal in the last minute of the first half. It was a really good test and the players reacted as they had to.”

The home fans were celebrating at halftime at a raucous Kenilworth Road after Elijah Adebayo rose to meet a cross from Andros Townsend and headed in the opener seconds before the break.

But after numerous City near-misses, Silva scored in the 62nd minute when he curled a low left-footed strike into the far corner past goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.

Grealish netted his 50th career goal three minutes later when Julian Alvarez sent a cross across the face of the goal that the 28-year-old stretched to slot in.

“We knew we had to keep calm today and buzzing to get back to winning ways,” Grealish told Sky Sports.

“I think a lot of people like to talk about City and go on like it’s a big crisis; in reality we’ve played very good teams — Spurs who’ve been unbelievable, Liverpool who are top, Chelsea and Villa away, who’ve got one of the best records in Europe.”

City arrived at Luton reeling from three draws and a midweek defeat by Aston Villa that saw last season’s treble winners plummet to fourth having topped the standings a month ago.

A lengthy loss of Haaland, who has what Guardiola called a “stress reaction” in his foot, could be devastating for City’s bid to retain their title.

“We don’t know. It’s his foot, we’ll see. Day by day, week by week. Hopefully we can recover him for the (Club) World Cup,” Guardiola said.

For much of Sunday’s match, Luton, whose rags-to-riches story saw them climb from non-league football to the Premier League in nine years, appeared poised to inflict more misery on the Manchester giants.

Luton ran out of steam in the second half in another solid performance for the Hatters, who held leaders Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at infamous Kenilworth this season while Arsenal needed an added-time winner to seal three points there.

“The detail and the cleverness that (City) do is very good,” Luton manager Rob Edwards told Sky. “But we matched them, we were brave and aggressive and we were on the front foot. I think we take confidence from this.”

City had 18 shots to Luton’s four but they either went wide or were stopped by Kaminski before Silva ended the drought. Kaminski made some terrific saves for the home side, particularly a diving stop on Phil Foden’s low hard shot in the first half.

“We played better in the first, the first half was better, much better,” Guardiola said. “But we need the goals and in the first half we didn’t score.”

(Published 10 December 2023, 19:38 IST)

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