Luton overpower Sunderland at Kenilworth Road to reach Championship Play-Off final
Sunderland were beaten 2-0 by Luton Town in the Sky Bet play-off semi-final second leg at Kenilworth Road.
Gabriel Osho’s early strike and a Tom Lockyer header were enough to claim victory for the Hatters as they advanced 3-2 on aggregate.
Alex Pritchard and Patrick Roberts recovered from minor knocks as Tony Mowbray named an unchanged side following their first leg victory.
Luton took an early lead on 10 minutes after the Black Cats failed to clear Lockyer’s knock-down allowing Osho to poke the ball past Anthony Patterson from three yards out.
Sunderland nearly had the perfect response a few minutes later when Luton striker Elijah Adebayo forced Ethan Horvath into a smart save after almost directing his header past his own goalkeeper.
The Hatters continued to put the visitors under intense pressure in the opening 20 minutes, firstly Trai Hume and then Luke O’Nien clearing off the line in a matter of seconds.
Patterson was called into action on the half-hour mark, pulling off a superb full-stretch save low down to his right, scooping Carlton Morris’ curling header away from goal.
The hosts doubled their lead two minutes before half time, Lockyer rising highest in the box to powerfully head Alfie Doughty’s delivery past Patterson from six yards out.
The second half continued as the first ended with both teams going full throttle as they battled for a place in the Championship play-off final.
Amad skipped past a couple of Hatters defenders to force a corner which the Ivorian headed over from close-range in the opening five minutes.
Patrick Roberts was perfectly positioned to make two goal-line clearances from consecutive Luton corners on the hour mark.
The attacker almost scored a brilliant solo goal minutes later after wriggling his way towards goal from the right-hand side, but his attempt rolled wide of Horvath’s far post.
Roberts continued to advance forward as the Black Cats looked to draw level on aggregate, the winger this time cutting inside but failed to keep his curling shot on target.
Luton almost grabbed a third goal in the added time as Sunderland pushed forward, Cody Drameh broke from his own half but his attempt with an open goal in sight hit Patterson’s side netting.
The visitors monopolised possession in the final 10 minutes with Amad, Jack Clarke and Roberts all ramping up the pressure, but the Hatters’ back line held firm to book their spot at Wembley.
Sunderland XI: Patterson, Gooch © (Huggins 77’), Hume, O’Nien, Pritchard (Alese 57’), Neil (Ba 77’), Ekwah, Roberts, Amad, Clarke, Gelhardt (Michut 64’)
Subs not used: Bass, Lihadji, Anderson.
Luton Town XI: Horvath, Doughty, Drameh, Lockyer ©, Bell, Osho, Clark (Campbell 82’), Nakamba, Mpanzu, Morris, Adebayo.
Subs not used: Shea, Potts, Berry, Burke, Onyedinma, Taylor.