Near-perfect Luton no match for Luis Diaz fate as Liverpool escape Kenilworth Road with a point

Matt Stead
Liverpool forward Mo Salah reacts
Mo Salah and Liverpool were not great against Luton

Luton had a better plan than Liverpool and carried it out far more effectively than their visitors, who nevertheless escaped Kenilworth Road with a point.


“A club in the Premier League but with no serious intentions of staying there” was how Garth Crooks described Luton after their “bare minimum” summer which featured three club-record signings, upgrades to bring Kenilworth Road to top-flight standard and further investment into the planned new Power Court stadium as part of a wider advancement in overall infrastructure.

It was business with sustainability and long-term ambitions in mind, rather being blinded by the limelight before making short-sighted decisions.

Luton do not have to explain themselves to those who use their platform to espouse such nonsense. Similar lines have been lazily reeled out and knocked straight back by a club that has been close enough to going out of business in the recent past that they instinctively know to walk before they can run.

Many scoffed at their first signing as a Premier League club. When their status could have been used to unlock previously slammed doors and the temptation might have been to go all Football Manager with grandiose plans, Luton instead brought in a Rotherham forward on a free transfer.

After 79 minutes spent exposing Liverpool’s defence, no-one is laughing at Chiedozie Ogbene now.

He was the best of a phenomenal bunch in a mad Hatters display of grit, determination, synergy and no little quality. A victory would have been entirely merited on the basis not only of their effort off the ball, but their excellence on it.

Tahith Chong took his goal well after replacing Andros Townsend Sr, and somehow made the most tackles of any player despite coming on in the 60th minute. The move was constructed wonderfully by Ross Barkley and Issa Kabore, turning a Liverpool corner into the ultimate counter-attack. And that stubborn home defence almost protected a hard-earned lead valiantly.

Darwin Nunez outshot Luton nine to eight but this was one of his Hyde evenings after an understated season of Jekyll brilliance. One particular miss from a couple of yards out was stunning in its incompetence yet none of his starting teammates were particularly better. All but two of the 14 outfielders had at least one effort of their own – and both Alexis Mac Allister and Kostas Tsimikas set one each up.

Liverpool’s two best players emerged from the bench to snatch a point in the depths of stoppage time, as Harvey Elliott continued his recent trend as a transformative substitute by crossing for Luis Diaz to loop a header over Thomas Kaminski.

Liverpool winger Luis Diaz celebrates his goal.
Luis Diaz celebrates his goal.

Unveiling an undershirt which bore the translated message of ‘Freedom for my father’, it was the only vaguely positive Liverpool outcome a neutral might have countenanced, so otherwise undeserving were they of anything from this match.

The Colombian even being named in the squad was a surprise after recent events but it was a phenomenal display of unthinkable character to produce an equaliser in the circumstances.

For probably the first time this season, Liverpool carried out a far less successful and effective gameplan than their opponents. The Chelsea and Brighton draws were frustrating and ultimately even, while the Spurs defeat was an aberration. Here, Luton enacted a better approach far more potently than they did.

Having been excellent so far this campaign, Liverpool need to almost relearn how to breach these low blocks. Jurgen Klopp has alluded to that being part of their next step and it should be noted that more clinical finishing changes the outlook of this match entirely. But that is part and parcel of the sport and these are two points dropped against a side the teams in their vicinity will more than likely beat.

That is not intended as a disservice to Luton, who have already exceeded the pre-season expectations of many and are full value for their place outside the relegation zone. Not bad at all, considering Rob Edwards and his players have “no serious intention” of staying up.

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