Declan Rice managed to come up with a last-second winner to clinch a 4-3 win at Luton Town in a classic encounter.
Our first game against the Hatters since 1991 was one to remember, and early goals from Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Osho looked like sending the sides in level at the break but Gabriel Jesus headed us back in front before the interval.
Within 10 minutes of the restart, strikes from Elijah Adebayo and Ross Barkley put the hosts in front, but we were behind for just three minutes later Kai Havertz managed to pull us level again just before the hour mark.
As the game ticked past the six allotted minutes of injury-time, it looked as though we would be forced to settle for a point but once again we managed to strike late through Rice’s glancing header to snatch all three points.
Incredibly looking at the final scoreline, the game actually took some time to warm up and it would be 20 minutes until the first attempt was created – but fortunately for us it was one we made count.
It stemmed from an error from Hatters keeper Thomas Kaminski who struggled to deal with a backpass and opted to play it safe and get the ball out of play. However, instead of wallopping it into the stand, he calmly played it off the advertising hoardings, and we capitalised.
Some quick thinking and swift throw from Jesus found Bukayo Saka who drove into the box and cut the ball back for Martinelli to tuck neatly into the bottom corner and finally breathe life into the encounter.
It then exploded into life four minutes later, but this time it was the hosts who were celebrating. Luton won a corner and they showed their set-pice prowess when Alfie Doughty whipped a delivery into the area, and Osho managed to divert it past David Raya to restore parity.
As the half progressed we began to rise to the physical challenge posed by Rob Edwards’ side, and started to find ourselves in the final third more often. Martinelli and Saka both fired powerful efforts at goal which Kaminiski managed to push away, but just as it looked like the teams would go into the interval level, we struck again in the final minute of the half.
Ben White received possession on the right and utilised his excellent link-up skills with Saka to play a one-two with the attacker and catch the defence napping, and he clipped a cross into the box which was perfect for Jesus to sprint onto and powerfully dispatch into the net to change the emphasis of Arteta’s team talk.
The second half began in a nightmare fashion for us as we swiftly saw the game flip on its head. Just three minutes after the break, lightning struck twice after Andros Townsend saw a shot deflect wide for a corner, and the delivery was sent in by Doughty and this time Adebayo got in front of Raya to head it into the net and frustrate us again.
The home crowd were up and were urging their team on, which inspired Barkley to drive forward eight minutes late and find his former England colleague Townsend, and after he twisted and turned but couldn’t conjure up a shooting opportunity, he returned the ball to the ex-Everton man who fired in a low shot that slipped under Raya and send Kenilworth Road into pandemonium as they got themselves in front.
Having been stung by the quick turnaround, we could have been forgiven for taking a moment to merely regroup, but instead we went straight down the other end and made it 3-3 just before the hour mark. A high hook into the box by Saka was well controlled by Jesus who showed strength to keep possession, and he lobbed it into the onrushing Havertz’s path to prod past Kaminski and score his third goal in his last four appearances.
From that point onwards it was one-way traffic as we pressed to get in front again. Martin Odegaard saw a shot from range fly straight to Kaminski and the lively Leandro Trossard then saw a shot deflect wide after his introduction from the bench.
Havertz looked like he might win it late on when he met an Oleksandr Zinchenko cross with his head but Kaminski tipped it over the crossbar late on, but the goal would come with seconds remaining.
With our final attack, we threw bodies forward and Zinchenko found Odegaard whose cross was perfect for Rice to flick past his marker and into he far corner to send his teammates, the bench and the away end into ecstasy as we recorded our first win at the venue since 1984 – and it was worth the wait.
Enjoy match highlights, training and behind the scenes to get closer to the likes of Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, Vivianne Miedema, Gabriel Jesus, Alex Zinchenko, Leah Williamson, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Kim Little, Gabriel Martinelli, Aaron Ramsdale, Beth Mead, Ben White and more.