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Hojlund scores early double and Man United hangs on for win at Luton for fourth straight victory

Rasmus Hojlund Manchester United Rasmus Hojlund - The Canadian Press

LUTON, England (AP) — Rasmus Hojlund scored twice in the opening seven minutes and Manchester United then withstood a spirited fightback to hang on for a 2-1 win at Luton on Sunday and a fourth straight Premier League victory.

Hojlund extended his scoring streak to six straight league games when he seized on a defensive howler to net the opener after just 37 seconds – United’s quickest away goal in Premier League history. He added the second with a slice of luck as a shot deflected off his chest and into the net to quieten the home crowd at the smallest stadium in the Premier League.

That early double made it look like it would be a comfortable afternoon for United, but it was anything but after that.

Luton’s Kenilworth Stadium – which seats just over 11,000 – was soon raucous again as the hosts responded by dominating the rest of the first half, and captain Carlton Morris pulled one goal back with a close-range header in the 14th.

However, the hosts couldn’t capitalize on a number of chances and hit the crossbar in injury time as United clung on for a win that puts it just three points behind fifth-place Tottenham.

“We are dropping too deep and we lost a bit of focus maybe because it was so easy in the first 10 minutes," United manager Erik ten Hag said. "We can’t afford this especially against a side like Luton. They have really upped their trend in the last few weeks.”

Hojlund failed to score in his first 14 league games for United but now has seven in his last six. The Dane, who turned 21 two weeks ago, became the youngest player to score in six straight Premier League games, breaking Joe Willock’s previous mark.

He was gifted the first one by Luton, though.

Amari’i Bell mis-hit his attempted back pass, allowing Hojlund to intercept the ball and run clear through on goal. The striker calmly rounded goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski before slotting the ball into the empty net.

His second goal was even easier, and was probably more luck than skill.

The ball fell to Alejandro Garnacho after a corner, and his shot from outside the area was heading wide but struck Hojlund in the chest and bounced into the net.

But Luton responded well and was right back in it when Tahith Chong’s blocked shot looped toward the net and Morris beat Andre Onana to the ball to head it past the goalkeeper.

United was suddenly hanging on as the hosts kept pouring forward, with Casemiro and Harry Maguire both booked for cynical challenges to stop Luton attacks. Casemiro was arguably lucky not to get a second one minutes later and both he and Maguire were taken off by Ten Hag at halftime to avoid either being sent off.

Luton kept pushing forward after the break but that left the hosts vulnerable to counterattacks, and Kaminski had to dive to his left to palm away Marcus Rashford’s long-range shot after a quick breakaway in the 57th.

Bruno Fernandes then nearly scored on another counter in the 60th as he was able to round the onrushing Kaminski, but midfielder Sambi Lokonga tracked back quickly enough to block his shot into an open net with a sliding challenge.

Garnacho then had a similar chance in the 67th, but that time it was Bell’s turn to be on hand to thwart his shot.

Fernandes missed another chance to extend the lead in the 88th when his shot went just wide, but in the end United didn’t need a third goal to see out the win, as Ross Barkley missed Luton's final chance in injury time when his header hit the top of the crossbar.

Luton had a blow even before the game as forward Elijah Adebayo was injured during the warmup and had to be replaced by Cauley Woodrow in the starting lineup. But manager Rob Edwards praised his players for bouncing back from the tough start.

“It probably rocked us a little bit," Edwards said about the early deficit. “We got back into the game and then pushed and pushed. Couldn’t find the second one, but once again there’s a lot to like about the performance. But you can’t give a team like Manchester United a (2-0 cushion).”


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