Rasmus Hojlund scores twice as Manchester United hold off Luton

In-form Rasmus Hojlund’s early brace proved enough for Manchester United to edge past battling Luton after their electric start threatened to turn into a chastening Kenilworth Road collapse.

Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils have enjoyed an unbeaten start to 2024 and are hoping for a brighter future under Sir Jim Ratcliffe as the Ineos chairman prepares to officially become minority owner next week.

United racked up a fifth straight win in all competitions on Sunday but made hard work of their 2-1 victory against Luton after Hojlund had struck twice in the opening seven minutes.

The opener came just 37 seconds after kick-off and saw the 21-year-old replace Newcastle midfielder Joe Willock as the youngest player to score in six straight Premier League matches.

Rasmus Hojlund celebrates
Rasmus Hojlund made it 2-0 early on (Bradley Collyer/PA)

But Luton have made life hard for the biggest clubs at Kenilworth Road and this was no different, with Carlton Morris pulling one back in the 14th minute.

Rob Edwards’ side were reinvigorated by that goal and constantly unsettled United, who were fortunate not to see Casemiro sent off for two bookings before his half-time substitution.

A breathless second period followed but somehow there was no more goals, with Ross Barkley seeing a stoppage-time header hit the bar for the hosts.

Few could have foreseen it going to the wire after Amari’i Bell inexplicably coughed up possession and Hojlund ran clean through to round Thomas Kaminski and slot home inside the first minute.

Harry Styles
Harry Styles was at Kenilworth Road (Bradley Collyer/PA)

It was an amazing start that Marcus Rashford went close to adding to after following a driving run with a strike narrowly wide.

Another goal appeared on the cards but few inside Kenilworth Road, where pop star Harry Styles was in attendance, would have predicted it coming at the other end.

Luton got bodies in the box as they attacked and United academy graduate Tahith Chong’s hopeful shot was sent looping by Harry Maguire’s block.

Morris got to the loose ball and all too easily headed past Andre Onana, sparking a stark switch in momentum.

Luton celebrate
Carlton Morris, second left, gave Luton hope (Bradley Collyer/PA)

The visitors lacked control and Morris was a whisker away with a left-footed laser.

That was close, as was referee David Coote’s call on Casemiro. The midfielder followed a poor touch by clumsily catching Barkley, yet survived bellows for a second booking.

Shaw had been a doubt for this match and went off injured before half-time, with Alfie Doughty shooting just wide in stoppage time as United continued to creak.

Luton gave their heroes a wonderful half-time reception, with the noise cranking up as much-loved Tom Lockyer went to do media duties as he recovers from a cardiac arrest.

Tom Lockyer
Luton defender Tom Lockyer received a great reception from the home fans (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Doughty and Chong were proving a handful, while at the other end Kaminski produced a strong one-handed stop to deny Rashford.

There was a roar in the 60th minute from the home support when Bruno Fernandes rounded Luton’s goalkeeper, only for Albert Sambi Lokonga to brilliantly block his shot.

Garnacho blew a one-on-one with Kaminski soon after and Fernandes saw a free-kick stopped, before the United skipper helped deny Osho at the other end.

United’s captain whistled wide after Kaminski prevented Hojlund from completing a hat-trick, all while the hosts continued to knock on the door at the other end.

A remarkable leveller nearly arrived in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time, but Barkley’s header from a corner came back off the bar.

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