City climbed to the top of the Premier League with a 5-1 win over Luton Town.

The defending champions were in complete control from start to finish against the struggling Hatters.

A fortuitous early own goal inside two minutes gave the Blues the perfect start, but the visitors clung on until the break trailing by just the one goal.

And Rob Edwards’ side continued to frustrate until just past the hour when Mateo Kovacic scored his first Premier League goal with a thumping shot to double the lead.

Erling Haaland wrapped up victory from the penalty spot before Ross Barkley pulled one back for Luton.

In the time that remained, further strikes from Jeremy Doku and Josko Gvardiol gave the scoreline a more realistic look given the Blues’ dominance.

What happened?

City were ahead within 70 seconds with something of a bizarre own goal.

Kevin De Bruyne slid Erling Haaland clear on goal, but he was denied by Luton keeper Thomas Kaminski’s save –  Jeremy Doku then collected the loose ball and saw his effort blocked before Haaland spectacularly volleyed a shot against the face of Daiki Hashioka that flew into the net.

Half chances then came and went frequently for the Blues, but the accuracy and power of the efforts were wanting somewhat until Matheus Nunes got in behind the Luton backline and saw his low shot kiss the outside of the left-hand post.

It was total dominance by City as the Hatters put bodies behind the ball and crowded their own box, but despite a couple more efforts on target, it wasn’t the most thrilling first 45 minutes.

It was as you were after the break, with the Blues creating chance after chance, but few efforts were hitting the target.

One sublime pass from Ederson set Nunes clear on goal, but the Portuguese slipped as he neared the box and the chance was gone.

Julian Alvarez, Kevin De Bruyne and Ruben Dias all sent in shots as Luton clung on until - finally - a short corner routine saw Alvarez pick out Kovacic who sent a thunderous shot into the roof of the net from just inside the box to make it 2-0 with 64 minutes played.

Almost immediately Luton broke out of their low block and Jordan Clarke saw a shot crash off the crossbar - the Hatters’ first shot of the game!

The game was suddenly much more open and on 76 minutes, the Blues sealed the points.

Doku, a constant threat down the left flank, skipped past Fred Onyedinma whose trailing leg brought the Belgian down in the box.

Haaland made no mistake from the spot - his 31st goal of the season.

After offering little or nothing in the way of attacks, Luton pulled a goal back.

Nunes lost possession on  the edge of the box on 81 minutes and Ross Barkley tucked the ball past Ederson.

Fortunately, there was still time for City to restore a three-goal advantage with a lovely individual effort from the impressive Doku on 87 to make it 4-1.

And the Belgian winger then set up Josko Gvardiol in added time to make it 5-1, with the Croatian scoring his second successive goal with another excellent finish.

Teams

CITY XI: Ederson, Lewis, Akanji, Dias, Gvardiol, Kovacic, Nunes, De Bruyne (Gomez 81), Alvarez, Doku, Haaland (Bobb 81)

Subs: Ortega Moreno, Walker, Ake, Grealish, Rodrigo, Bernardo, Foden

LUTON TOWN XI: Kaminski, Onyedinma (Nelson 88), Hashioka, Burke, Doughty, Chong, Barkley, Berry (Mpanzu 77), Clark (Johnson 88), Morris, Townsend (Woodrow 59).

Subs: Shea, Krul, Harris, Chigozie, Piesold

player of the match

Mateo Kovacic just edges the star man honours from Jeremy Doku.

The Croatian was neat and tidy in possession and his first goal at the Etihad capped a fine 90 minutes.

Doku ran him close with an afternoon of trickery, a goal and an assist.

What it means

City move to the top of the Premier League table for the first time since November and are two points clear of Arsenal and Liverpool who both play on Sunday.

Liverpool host Crystal Palace and Arsenal take on Aston Villa at the Emirates.

The win also improves our goal difference to +44.

What’s next?

It’s back to Champions League action as City host Real Madrid in the quarter-final, second leg on Wednesday evening.

With the tie finely poised at 3-3, it should be another thrilling night under the lights at the Etihad.

Kick-off is 20:00 (UK).

Then it’s back to Wembley where we take on Chelsea next Saturday in the FA Cup semi-final with the winners facing either Manchester United of Coventry City in the final.

Kick-off is scheduled for 17:15 (UK).

Premier League
1 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 32 22 7 3 76 32 44 73 DDWWW
2 Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal 32 22 5 5 75 26 49 71 WDWWL
3 Liverpool FC Liverpool Liverpool 32 21 8 3 72 31 41 71 DWWDL
Last updated: 17 April 2024

Guardiola reaction


“You can not play the same people, it is impossible, the three guys [Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji and Josko Gvardiol] who played in Madrid they were incredible.

“It is a privilege to be here after many years to compete for the competitions.

“[Today], how many chances could we not score? It was not easy, but in the games you have to close it [out].

“More [chances], more and more then you don’t win. We were patient and we didn’t concede much.”

“[We are top only] for a few hours.

“Tomorrow they [Arsenal and Liverpool] have to play, all we can do is win our games and if we cannot do it we congratulate them.

“All you have to do is win games and we will try game by game.”

Flawless 90 for City

This was, in many ways, the ideal game for City to prepare for Real Madrid.

Pep was able to rest Rodrigo, Phil Foden, Bernardo and Jack Grealish, while Kyle Walker was fit enough to sit on the bench after several weeks out, alongside Nathan Ake.

Luton have not travelled well this season and so the Blues were able to dominate from start to finish.

Several players were able to get much-needed minutes into their legs, there were no reported injuries and it was another three points - as well as a boost to our goal difference.

All in all, a great day’s work.

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