Chelsea weathered a tumultuous evening off the pitch and an early Luton onslaught to twice come from behind and reach the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 3-2 fifth-round victory at Kenilworth Road.
Roman Abramovich confirmed his intention to sell Chelsea an hour before kick-off, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the seismic news unsettled Thomas Tuchel’s side, who were behind after 102 seconds as Reece Burke’s glancing header gave Luton the dream start.
Chelsea settled as the half progressed and deservedly drew level when Saul Niguez curled home a fine equaliser (27), but back roared Luton as Harry Cornick rounded off a brilliant team goal to restore the hosts’ lead five minutes before the break.
Luton’s deputy goalkeeper Harry Isted, who replaced the injured Jed Steer early on, made a number of saves to keep the sides level, and just when it looked like Chelsea were in full control, they were caught by a sucker-punch when Harry Cornick was released behind the visitors’ high-line and finished with aplomb, as Luton led at half-time.
The pendulum swung when Timo Werner drew Chelsea level again in the 67th minute, racing onto Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s raking ball, controlling beautifully and stabbing home.
It had been a frustrating night for Lukaku, but the Belgium international popped up with the winner when he gambled with a run to the near post and flicked home from Werner’s teasing cross.
Chelsea’s relief was evident at the final whistle as they passed a gruelling test and they can now look forward to Thursday night’s draw.
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