Luton held off a late Newcastle fightback to claim a 4-4 draw in an extraordinary game at St James’ Park.
Eddie Howe’s side were left stunned after the visitors twice cancelled out Sean Longstaff goals through Gabriel Osho and Ross Barkley in the first half, with a Carlton Morris penalty and an Elijah Adebayo strike then putting them 4-2 up in the second period.
But Newcastle hauled themselves level when substitute Harvey Barnes found the bottom corner on his first appearance since September after Kieran Trippier had dispatched a sumptuous cross from Bruno Guimaraes for their third goal.
The hosts poured forward in search of a winner in the closing stages, with Jacob Murphy spurning a big chance from another Guimaraes cross, but their fearless opponents, 4-0 winners over Brighton on Tuesday, continued to carry a threat of their own as a wild game remained open until the last.
The result puts Newcastle’s defensive struggles into sharp focus once more and ensures they miss the chance to make up ground on the top six. For 16th-placed Luton, meanwhile, it is another invaluable point which further boosts their hopes of survival.
Newcastle: Dubravka (5), Trippier (8), Schar (6), Botman (6), Burn (4), Bruno (8), Longstaff (8), Miley (7), Murphy (6), Almiron (5), Gordon (7).
Subs: Wilson (6), Barnes (8), Livramento (7).
Luton: Kaminski (5), Bell (6), Mengi (6), Osho (7), Doughty (7), Lokonga (8), Barkley (9), Ogbene (8), Clark (7), Morris (8), Adebayo (8).
Subs: Mpanzu (6), Brown (6), Burke (6), Woodrow (6).
Player of the match: Ross Barkley
How the incredible drama unfolded
The game was a manic affair from the start, with Longstaff firing Newcastle’s seventh-minute opener after a superb diagonal pass from Lewis Miley released Trippier for the cut-back.
Chiedozie Ogbene’s speed and trickery was causing problems for the hosts at the other end, but it was their prodigious set-piece threat which led to their first goal, Osho nodding home after Morris had headed a Barkley free-kick into the six-yard box.
- Newcastle: Anthony Gordon started up front in place of the injured Alexander Isak, with Callum Wilson only on the bench.
- Luton: Teden Mengi returned to the starting line-up, replacing Reece Burke.
It was Luton’s 10th set-piece goal of the season – the third-highest total by any Premier League side – but Newcastle mustered an immediate response following a counter-attack as Thomas Kaminski palmed Anthony Gordon’s shot out to Longstaff, who took a touch and fired another clinical finish into the corner.
Newcastle had chances to extend their lead, with Gordon seeing a shot blocked when well-placed to score in the box, but Luton continued to throw bodies forward and soon got their reward.
Their second goal was scored and created by Barkley as he drove through midfield and fed Alfie Doughty, whose cross-shot was parried back into his path by Martin Dubravka for a simple finish.
Gordon injury blow for Newcastle
Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon had to be taken off for Callum Wilson at half-time and later left the stadium in a protective boot.
Eddie Howe said: “I think he twisted his ankle. He is in a protective boot and the physios are doing the right thing.”
Newcastle started the second half positively but Luton’s directness continued to trouble them, with Dan Burn’s inability to contain Ogbene proving costly as he was penalised for pulling the winger back just inside the Newcastle box following a VAR check.
Morris was made to retake his penalty after scoring with his first effort when the referee had not signalled his readiness, but kept his cool at the second attempt, again sending Dubravka the wrong way, to put Luton ahead for the first time.
It was no less than Rob Edwards’ side deserved and their fans were in dreamland soon afterwards when, from another slick break, Barkley teed up Adebayo for an emphatic diagonal finish.
Newcastle were stunned but managed to regain their composure, thanks in part to Guimaraes, whose brilliant, outside-of-the-boot cross allowed Trippier to reduce the deficit at the far post.
Then, when substitute Barnes marked his return from injury with a wonderful finish into the corner from outside the box, it appeared the hosts were in position to go on and win it.
They had chances to do so, most notably when Murphy fired over from another Guimaraes delivery struck using the outside of his boot, but Luton held on and could have claimed the win themselves in the dying moments of the 10 minutes of stoppage time.
Barkley, excellent again in Luton’s midfield, was the creator of the chance as his pass released Ogbene on the right-hand side of the Newcastle box, but his powerful shot was too close to Dubravka, ensuring the spoils were shared.
Merson: Luton have been absolutely amazing
Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson said: “Amazing. A great advert for the Premier League. End-to-end, both teams wanted to win the game and both teams were willing to keep themselves bare at the back to score goals. It was an amazing football match, so credit to both managers and both sets of players.
“I thought Eddie got it wrong with Burn. He was getting ripped to shreds down Newcastle’s left. He should have brought him off earlier for Tino Livramento. Ogbene just had him on toast and that’s where it was all coming from.
“Luton were fearless. They’ve scored four and four in the last two games. Barkley lost the ball for one of the goals, but again he was outstanding.
“What I like about Luton is they have come up and they have played like they did in the Championship. “The two up front are a handful. Ogbene down the right, Doughty down the left. The defenders are willing to defend.
“I can’t talk highly enough of them. I think they’ve been absolutely amazing so far.
“It’s about confidence. In the games they lost at home at the start, against some of the big boys, they faded quite quickly, they were getting tired.
“The problem when you come up is that you have to apply top gear week in, week out. It takes a toll when you’re not getting results. Now, they are getting results. When that happens, you don’t get as tired. A long, long way to go but what they have done has been incredible.”
Howe: We didn’t take control of game
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe: “It was a strange game really. So much to look back on and reflect on. We are disappointed to have not grown stronger in the game. Credit to Luton on how they got back into the game. And then we had to do that as well.
“The first goal is a set play and another is a penalty. We made some poor decisions defensively. When we went 1-0 up and I don’t think we handled it well until they equalised.
“I wanted us to grab control of the game but we didn’t. That’s the frustrating thing. In that moment we had a lack of confidence and then a real credit to the players for coming back because it is not easy to do. We scored some great goals and could have won it.”
Edwards proud of ‘brave’ Luton
Luton boss Rob Edwards said: “It is very mixed. I am very proud and pleased with the performance. We were brave.
“They came back quickly and the way we stayed composed and didn’t go under was pleasing. That could have happened in this cauldron of an atmosphere. We even had a chance to win it at the end. It was an even game, and a great game.”
On their style of play, he added: “I have said to the players, this is the best way for us to get results. The players have really bought in.
“We have been this way before, but it suits who we are and what we are. It suits the whole football club to be honest. It gives us more threat and upsets the flow of the opposition.”
He added: “I think when you look at their goals there were some things we could have done. You just need to see certain moments out. Some of the actions for their goals we could have done better on.
“They will be thinking the same as well. There are always areas to improve. We are human beings and we make mistakes and we will always make mistakes.”
Morris: We are showing our pedigree
Luton captain Carlton Morris said: “We are a little bit disappointed to be 4-2 up and come away with a point. We showed a lot of character to stay in the game. It isn’t an easy place to come and when they have their tails up, they are deadly.
“It can be tough at times but there is a lot of quality in this league. It is clear that we have evolved a lot from the start of the season to now and we are showing that pedigree. Hopefully we can score four goals every week.
“We want to be a fun team to watch as well. We do want to be exciting and play flowing football. That’s what we are doing. We are learning and getting better every week. We continue to build so it’s great.”
Newcastle’s defensive woes – Opta stats
- Newcastle have shipped at least three goals in each of their last three Premier League home games (10 in total), as many as they conceded in their previous 16 at St James Park combined.
- Luton scored four goals in a top-flight away game for the first time since netting five against Oxford in September 1987, while Newcastle conceded four goals in a top-flight home match against a newly promoted side for the first time since March 1976, against Manchester United (3-4).
- Luton have scored four or more goals in consecutive league games for the first time since October 2017, in League Two.
- Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff scored his first ever Premier League double, netting as many goals against Luton today as in his previous 44 matches in the competition combined.
- Kieran Trippier has more assists (nine) than any other player in the Premier League this season. Indeed, almost half of his total assists in the competition have come in the last two seasons, for Newcastle (16/34).
Newcastle face Nottingham Forest at the City Ground next Saturday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 5.30pm. Meanwhile, Luton Town host Sheffield United at Kenilworth Road on the same day; kick-off 3pm.
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