Jack Grealish puts Manchester City back on track with battling win over Luton

Pep Guardiola's team end winless run in Premier League with 2-1 triumph on Sunday

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Manchester City had to fight tooth and nail to avoid an upset against Luton Town, Jack Grealish ending their four-game winless run in the Premier League with a 2-1 victory on Sunday.

With star striker Erling Haaland unavailable due to injury, Pep Guardiola's team found themselves trailing after Elijah Adebayo's goal late in the first half at Kenilworth Road.

City squandered several chances but clicked into gear with two goals in three minutes after the break.

After their 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Wednesday, which followed draws with Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham, City were in danger of falling out of the title race.

But fourth-placed City responded with a gritty display to close the gap on Liverpool.

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

But after numerous City near-misses, Bernardo 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.

The result was on expected lines as Luton have proven to be a tough proposition at home on their return to the top flight after a 31-year absence.

They drew 1-1 with Liverpool, who needed a late equaliser to avoid defeat, and came within seconds of a point against Arsenal, before losing 4-3 on Tuesday.

On Sunday, it was City who set the early pace. However, while Guardiola's team dominated the first half, they wasted a number of opportunities.

Phil Foden accelerated on to Silva's pass for a stinging drive that Kaminski saved at full stretch before Silva sliced the rebound wide.

Kaminski rescued Luton again as he stuck out a hand to repel Rodri's fierce strike, then dived to his right to stop Foden's shot.

City kept coming and Alvarez poked narrowly wide from Grealish's pass, while Foden was denied by Kaminski's brave save at his feet.

Guardiola was getting uneasy and his fears came true with seconds left in the first half when Luton grabbed the lead.

However, City persisted. On the hour mark, Ruben Dias rattled the crossbar from Nathan Ake's cutback in what was the visitors' first real opening since falling behind.

Within minutes, they were level and it was the architect of Luton's goal Ross Barkley who was at fault. He lost the ball in midfield to Rodri who drove at the heart of the defence.

He collided with Tom Lockyer who had come across to challenge and as the ball broke loose, it was pounced on by Silva, who thumped it first time inside the far post.

Seconds later, it was 2-1 and it was the simplest finish for Grealish. Alvarez's low cross evaded the desperate lunge of Teden Mengi, arriving at Grealish's feet six yards out.

Match-winner Grealish said the team remained confident despite recent results and said there is no need to make it seem like the side is in crisis.

“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,” Grealish told Sky Sports.

“Spurs who've been unbelievable, Liverpool who are top, Chelsea and Villa away, who've got one of the best records in Europe. We knew we had to keep calm today and buzzing to get back to winning ways.”

Luton manager Rob Edwards said it was heartening to see his players give the bigger teams a run for their money, but bemoaned missing out on points.

“We need to keep building and improving and working in the areas we know we can. We can take a lot of confidence and belief. I thought today in many aspects we were excellent,” he told Sky Sports.

“Maybe we're changing the narrative about Luton Town a little bit. But we do need to get points.”

Updated: December 11, 2023, 3:51 AM