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Luton Town Promoted to the Premier League

Luton Town Celebrating

A penalty shootout victory sent Luton Town to the Premier League for the first time. (Photo Credit: Matthew Childs/Reuters)

Luton Town celebrate beating Coventry
A penalty shootout victory sent Luton Town to the Premier League for the first time (Matthew Childs/Reuters)

Luton Town Promoted to the Premier League

Luton Town’s remarkable rise from the fifth tier of English soccer to the Premier League was completed Saturday as the Hatters defeated Coventry City in the Championship playoff final.

This is the first time Luton will play in the Premier League and the first time in 31 years that they will play in the top division in England. Luton was relegated from the top division in 1991, one year before the Premier League began.

The Game

The matchup between Luton and Coventry was one of the clearest examples of a tale of two halves that you will ever see. Luton dominated the first half, seeing not one but two goals disallowed. They did get the breakthrough in the 23rd minute, however, when Jordan Clark smashed a left-footed shot into the top left corner of the goal.

During the first half, Luton’s captain Tom Lockyer was carried off the field in a stretcher after he collapsed on the field. Lockyer was taken to the hospital, where he was responsive and responded positively to preliminary tests.

Despite losing Lockyer, Luton was all over Coventry from the start and looked like the far superior team.

The second half was a completely different game, though. Coventry was the better team and scored the equalizer in the 66th minute. Midfielder Gustavo Hamer slotted a calm finish past American goalkeeper Ethan Horvath to bring Coventry level.

The game finished regular time tied 1-1, meaning another 30 minutes of football. Unlike the first 90 minutes, however, extra time proved to be a rather drab affair.

That all changed when Joe Taylor pounced on a Coventry mistake at the back to put Luton back in front with just minutes remaining. Taylor cooly finished his chance through the legs of Coventry keeper Ben Wilson.

Luton’s celebrations were cut short following a VAR review of the goal that spotted a handball on Taylor after he had won the ball from Jonathan Panzo. The goal was called back, and the game was headed to penalty kicks.

Penalties

The first five penalty kicks for both teams were nearly perfect. Neither goalkeeper had a chance at saving them as they rifled into the corners of the goal.

Luton converted their sixth penalty, a calm right-footed shot from Liam Kelly into the bottom left corner.

With all of these perfect penalties, someone was going to eventually be the villain. That title unfortunately fell to Fankaty Dabo who blasted his penalty over the bar.

Luton Back Up

Dabo’s miss meant heartbreak for Coventry and elation for Luton. Luton became the first club in history to climb from the fifth-tier Vanarama National League to the Premier League in the Premier League era. After multiple relegations, financial problems and years crawling around England’s lower leagues, Luton will return to the big time.

Luton player Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu has been with Luton every step of the way. He is the first player in history to go from non-league to the Premier League with the same club following Luton’s promotion.

“I feel like I’ve completed football,” Mpanzu said, via Sky Sports.

Luton will now have to upgrade its stadium, Kenilworth Road, before it jumps to the Premier League. The quaint stadium holds just over 10,000 fans. An estimated £10 million will be spent to improve the stadium before the Premier League season. There are also plans for a new Luton stadium to be built by 2026, but for now, teams such as champions Manchester City will look forward to away days at the famous little stadium.

Other Teams Promoted

Luton joins Burnley and Sheffield United in being promoted to the Premier League. Burnley won the Sky Bet Championship this season with 101 points. Sheffield United finished in second place with 91 points.

All three teams will be hoping to avoid relegation and make their stay in the Premier League an extended one.


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