West Ham United, leading the way in the Premier League, clinched a 2-1 victory over Luton Town on Friday, courtesy of headers from Jarrod Bowen and Kurt Zouma. This triumph spoiled Luton’s much-anticipated return to top-flight football at their cozy Kenilworth Road stadium after 31 years.
Mads Andersen managed to pull one back for Luton in injury time, giving the exuberant home fans something to cheer about by nodding the ball past goalkeeper Alphonse Areola. However, the night ultimately ended in defeat for the home side.
West Ham, the last top-flight team to secure a victory at Luton’s home ground back in 1992, currently sits atop the league standings with 10 points from four matches. On the other hand, Rob Edwards’ Hatters are still in search of their first points this season.
“It’s been a fantastic start for both me and the team. We’re actually a bit frustrated not to have 12 points,” remarked Bowen in an interview with Sky Sports.
Lucas Paquetá set up Bowen’s third goal of the season in the 37th minute with a precise cross to the far post, which Bowen headed into the net, leaving goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski helpless as he fell on his back in frustration.
Bowen noted, “I headed straight at the keeper, so I got a bit lucky there. I don’t score many headers.” He also became the first West Ham player since 1930 to score in their first three away matches.
Zouma’s goal in the 85th minute resulted from a well-executed corner by James Ward-Prowse.
“It’s a fantastic feeling in a challenging match,” Zouma commented on his goal. “James delivered a terrific ball, and I just had to put it in. We knew they would put us under pressure, but we remained composed and kept possession.”
There were late appeals for a handball against Ward-Prowse, which went unanswered.
Luton’s compact and historic stadium, affectionately known as “The Kenny” and recently modernized with a £10 million ($12.59 million) investment following the club’s promotion, played a significant role despite the loss.
West Ham manager David Moyes praised his team’s performance, saying, “We demonstrated the character to handle the atmosphere. It was a good performance against a formidable opponent that puts a lot of pressure on teams. Overall, I think we did an excellent job tonight.”
At the other end of the table, Luton, sitting at the bottom, has suffered three losses, conceding nine goals while scoring twice. The Hatters made an astonishing ascent from non-league soccer to the Premier League in just ten seasons.
Edwards, Luton’s manager, said, “We knew it was going to be tough. There’s nothing to fear; I’ve just conveyed that to the lads in there as well. We’re eager to get something to boost our belief and to give our fans something to cheer about.”
The newcomers had their passionate orange-clad fans on their feet with numerous opportunities, including an early cross into the area by Ryan Giles that slipped through Areola’s gloves. New signing Ross Barkley also had a left-footed effort narrowly miss the target moments later. Although Luton had a promising chance in the second half when Alfie Doughty fired a long-range shot, which was deflected over the bar, their goal came too late to salvage a draw.