Alfie Doughty scored a screamer as Premier League Luton knocked League Two side Gillingham out of the Carabao Cup with a 3-2 second-round victory at Kenilworth Road.
The Hatters, who are still searching for a first top-flight point of the season, were ahead after just two minutes. Summer signing Jacob Brown was fed by Luke Berry and arrowed an unerring left-footed shot beyond Glenn Morris into the bottom corner.
He had another go after seven minutes, unable to repeat the feat from further out this time, as Gills did not threaten a great deal during the opening stages, Jayden Clarke firing well over from range.
Berry’s shot was easy for Morris, but Luton had a second after 28 minutes when a clever free-kick routine saw Doughty unleash a truly magnificent 25-yard strike that flew into the top corner, giving Morris no chance at all.
After the break, the Gills tried to pull one back, Max Clark’s long-range effort straight at Tim Krul, before the visitors did halve the deficit with 55 minutes on the clock.
Clarke escaped Luton’s defence on the left and went through to sidestep a tackle before lofting into the net.
Gills should have levelled moments later, Amari’i Bell failing to deal with a high ball forward, as Ashley Nadesan out-muscled the Jamaica international to be faced with Krul, denied by the trailing leg of the Dutchman.
The corner led to another glorious chance as the ball dropped to Macauley Bonne, who skied his inviting half-volley well over the bar.
Luton brought on summer signings Ross Barkley and Issa Kabore to try and regain the ascendancy and it worked in the 66th minute.
A ball forward was headed out to Cauley Woodrow who, with Morris slightly out of his goal, was able to power an effort over the backpedalling keeper for a first goal of the season.
Kabore saw his calls for a penalty waved away by referee Jeremy Simpson, before the Gills made it 3-2 with two minutes left, sub Tom Nichols’ stooping header going in despite the best efforts of Krul.
Nichols’ shot was saved by Krul, as midfielder Jonny Williams went close to a stoppage-time leveller, his snapshot flicking off a covering defender and going behind.
Ross Barkley almost wrapped up victory even later, a four-on-one break seeing the midfielder’s effort beaten away by Morris, as the Hatters edged their way through.