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Coventry v Luton: Winners confirmed after tense 2023 Championship Playoff Final goes to shootout

The winners of Coventry v Luton have been confirmed after what was a tense 2023 Championship Playoff Final for both sides.

Coventry finished the season sitting fifth in the second tier, 10 points behind third-placed Luton.

The Sky Blues beat Middlesbrough in the semi-final and were looking to return to Premier League for first time since 2000-01.

Luton reached the final with a victory over Sunderland, and the Hatters last played in top flight in 1991-92, season before Premier League founded.

The two teams drew both meetings in the regular season, but there could only be a win here, at Wembley, in the richest game within football. Here’s how it played out…

Juts five minutes in, Luton had the ball in the net but it was ruled out.

Lockyer won the first header and it fell to Osho, who bundled it in but he had just strayed offside.

It proved to be an early warning for Coventry.

12 minutes in and Tom Lockyer went down. The talismanic centre-back for Luton, who has been a key figure and was included in the Championship team of the year being treated by medics.

The Luton defender had fallen over when back peddling under no pressure.

A few of the Hatters players milled around close by in concern with manager Rob Edwards forming a huddle.

Luton’s Tom Lockyer given oxygen as medics help him on stretcher after scary fall

Sky Sports’ Andy Hinchcliffe: “That is so sad. Lockyer epitomises what Luton are all about. For his final to end like this is devastating.”

McFadzean has almost gifted Luton an opener on 14 minutes. He couldn’t deal with a hopeful long ball over the top and his header put the ball in Morris’ path.

The Luton man had to take it first time on the volley but his effort went wide of the post.

Deadlock was broken on 23 minutes, Adebayo, who did so well to create the opportunity, beat McFadzean to the long ball and then got past him again before he laid it on for Clark.

The finish from Clark on his left superb from an angle on the left inside the box. His first touch set him up and gave Luton a deserved lead!

Andy Hinchcliffe: “The running off the ball by Adebayo is outstanding. He’s too strong, too clever. Then he gets into the penalty area and is unselfish.

“The first touch from Clark is outstanding.”

Simeon Gholam: “Brilliant from Adebayo. The hold-up play and lay-off was superb. McFadzean got dragged away from where he wanted to be and he got absolutely taken to pieces by the Luton forward.

“The finish from Clark, ruthless. Luton have the lead their start here has deserved.”

Luton should have been 2-0 up on the half hour mark.

Morris saw his effort blocked in the box and it found its way to Adebayo but he couldn’t steer his attempt on goal.

Adebayo saw his header set Morris up for his strike, but he couldn’t keep his cool when it was up to him to put the ball in the back of the net.

Luton went into the break the better side, knowing they should have had a bigger lead.

Coventry had grew into the game as it wore on and really turned it on in the second half, showing more threat, but just needed carve out a clear-cut chance.

And then in the 66th minute, a devastating counter from Coventry brought them level. Doyle let Gyokeres go down the left and the striker was able to get his head up and find Hamer in the box.

He ran to meet the pass and side-footed the ball into the corner.

Sky Sports’ Andy Hinchcliffe: “How similar is this to the Luton goal?!

“It’s a brilliant pass from Doyle. Gyokeres draws the defenders and is unselfish. Hamer joins the attack and finishes.

“Game on!”

With around 10 minutes of the second half to go, it was bad news for Coventry as Hamer went down. He was in tears as he came off, before getting an applause by the Sky Blues fans.

Luton responded well to Coventry’s leveller, however, Rob Edwards’ side failed to make the most of a corner and, almost immediately, their set-piece taker Doughty was taken off.

87 minutes and Viktor Gyokeres, who hadn’t had many clear sights of goal, saw his footwork and perseverance produce a deflected effort went straight at Ethan Horvath.

A huge touch denied Luton a chance back post from Cody Drameh’s cross, with Brooke Norton-Cuffy putting it behind with the game going into added time with extra time looming.

Nothing could separate the two sides however and another 30 minutes were needed.

The first half of extra time still saw tackles going in all over the place, with Coventry starting the better.

Gyokeres used his body well to create distance between himself and Bell, shooting early from range which almost caught Horvath out. The Luton goalkeeper dropped the ball at first but was able to recover and collect.

Palmer was brought down by Onyedinma after a making a run through midfield. Coventry attempted and float the ball in toward McNally but he couldn’t get on the end of it.

The start of the second half of extra time saw Gyokeres fight to create enough room to send in a cross which led to a Coventry corner, only for Coventry to win the first header, which had made it’s way into the air but a second attempt to put the ball into the danger zone was a poor one as Horvath collected it with ease.

Coventry won the ball back on the halfway line and launch an attack but produced a rather tiresome pass from Bidwell, making it easy to cut out.

Dramatic scenes on 117 minutes. Taylor thought he had scored the most important goal in Luton’s history, but instead, VAR spotted a handball. A huge let off that for Panzo, who made the error that very nearly saw them fall behind.

Berry went down after a challenge in the air, but thankfully bounced back up to his feet.

So, penalties it was to settle it.

Coventry:
Luton: ✔️ (Morris)

Coventry: ✔️ (Godden)
Luton: ✔️

Coventry: ✔️
Luton: ✔️✔️ (Taylor)

Coventry: ✔️✔️ (Gyokeres)
Luton: ✔️✔️

Coventry: ✔️✔️
Luton: ✔️✔️✔️ (Nakamba)

Coventry: ✔️✔️✔️ (Sheaf)
Luton: ✔️✔️✔️

Coventry: ✔️✔️✔️
Luton: ✔️✔️✔️✔️ (Clark)

Coventry: ✔️✔️✔️✔️ (Eccles)
Luton: ✔️✔️✔️✔️

Coventry: ✔️✔️✔️✔️
Luton: ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️ (Berry)

Coventry: ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️ (Kelly)
Luton: ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

Coventry: ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️
Luton: ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️ (Potts)

Coventry: ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️❌ (Dabo)
Luton: ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

PRIZE MONEY:

– Victory is worth at least £170m even if the winners finish bottom in the Premier League next season.
Based on payments from previous seasons, the side that finishes bottom of the Premier League will receive around £95m in central revenue, though this figure can change depending on how often that team is shown live on UK TV.

– Should the play-off winners be relegated they will receive just under £76m as a parachute payment – clubs who spend one season in the Premier League are only eligible for two seasons’ worth of parachute payments, which come to about £75.6m spread over two years. Teams relegated after more than one season get an extra £15m in the third year.

– Premier League survival for one season would see this figure raise to over £285m – the side that finishes 17th will net around £100m in central payments and also qualify for the extra £15m in third year of parachute payments.

Jobi McAnuff on Sky Sports Football:

“Last year they had the huge disappointment of missing out when everyone said they over-achieved to even get into the play-offs. To re-group, go again, add to the group with the right personnel and actually be better again – you look at some of the other clubs that didn’t even get close to getting into the play-offs – West Brom, Watford – is an incredible achievement.

“The manager might say all the managers that have gone before him laid the foundations, yes, but he had huge shoes to fill. He had a bruising experience at Watford, came back very quickly and clearly identified what he needed to do to make this team better than last year – and he’s been able to do that.”

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