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Luton Town 2-3 Chelsea: Palmer brace ensures Blues avoid late collapse to end 2023 with victory



Credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Chelsea collected three points away at Luton Town as goals from Cole Palmer and Noni Maduake made the difference in their Premier League clash of 2023.

The Blues offered a new-found clinical nature in the opposition box, which led to a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead. Yet, Mauricio Pochettino’s men will feel fortunate to win the game in the end after a late Luton onslaught led to goals from Ross Barkley and Elijah Adebayo to make it 3-2.

Defensive frailties and a lack of experience were evident in the closing stages, but Chelsea managed to just hold onto victory.

It was a bright start to the game for Chelsea, as they carved out a good chance through the quick footwork of Noni Madueke on the right.

The right-winger was able to take on his man before laying the ball off to Conor Gallagher, whose low shot towards the near post was easily saved by Thomas Kaminski.

High and intense pressing from The Blues appeared to be forcing the hosts into some mistakes in their build-up, and that was soon capitalised on by the returning Cole Palmer.

Chelsea’s best player so far this term, Palmer pounced on a wayward pass from Issa Kaboré and made no mistake with his fierce strike across goal to open the scoring.

However, frustratingly, the visitors appeared to step off the gas once the goal went in, and persistent fouls in dangerous areas provided Luton with unneeded confidence throughout the first half.

Refreshingly though, it was Chelsea who were clinical yet again when Maduake was able to smash an effort into the roof of the net late on in the half to double his side’s lead going into the break.

There was more Luton pressure in the early stages of the second half, and Chelsea were thankful that Thiago Silva could make a vital block inside the box when it looked like there would be a certain goal.

A lack of quality followed in the second period of the game, with Chelsea seemingly going through the motions with the scoreline at only 2-0. They needed the third in order to secure the win.

When you need that bit of quality, who better than Cole Palmer to step up? The summer signing received the ball on the counter-attack following a pass in behind the defence from Nicolas Jackson.

Palmer’s initial ball role left the goalkeeper stranded, shortly before his body feint ensured that he had the space to slot his second of the game into the empty net to give Chelsea that extra breathing room, which ended up becoming entirely necessary.

In what felt like an inevitability, Ross Barkley headed home 10 minutes before time to make the score 3-1 and give Luton confidence going into the closing stages of the game.

Seven minutes later, Elijah Adebayo scored from a rebound in order to pile on the pressure when the board showed six added minutes at the end of the game.

Several missed chances let a fortunate Chelsea off the hook, and Thiago Silva shaking his head at full-time told the story of the last 20 minutes of the game despite the 3-2 victory.

Pochettino, however, will realise how difficult it can be to play Luton Town away from home and will be happy to return to Stamford Bridge with three points in the new year.