Rob Edwards predicted striker Elijah Adebayo has a “high ceiling” to what he can achieve after Luton’s hat-trick hero helped his side to a 4-0 win against Brighton at Kenilworth Road.
The 26-year-old has now scored eight goals in the Premier League this season, with Luton moving out of the bottom three for the first time in nearly two months following the victory.
Adebayo scored his first after just 19 seconds, getting there ahead of goalkeeper Jason Steele to reach Carlton Morris’s header back across goal to nod home.
Chiedozie Ogbene added a second less than two minutes later, beating Steele to the ball as both raced to meet Albert Sambi Lokonga’s ball over the top and sliding it in to cap a sensational opening.
Brighton fell further behind before the break when Adebayo grabbed his second, staying onside to receive Ross Barkley’s pass and lashing the ball inside the near post.
And Adebayo completed his hat-trick after 56 minutes, heading in from Alfie Doughty’s corner as Brighton’s defence did little more than stand and watch.
It was comfortably the Hatters’ best win since returning to the top flight, with Adebayo’s goals the difference.
“He’s become more reliable without the ball,” said Edwards.
“His work-rate has always been great but he’s seeing how important it is to press hard, press the goalkeeper, press his man. He does that tirelessly.
“He’s going to be really difficult to play against. He can defend set-pieces, he’s a threat in the six-yard box, because of his hold-up play and pressing and he’s scoring some goal goals.
“He’s progressing really well.
“He’s got a really high ceiling. If he stays focused and keeps working hard, he can go a long way and have a really good career.”
It was Luton’s third win in five league matches as their bid to survive in the top flight picked up more momentum ahead of Saturday’s trip to Newcastle.
“It’s still only three points,” said Edwards. “It’s good for our confidence and belief. Tonight will get more headlines because of who it was against.
“We were ruthless, and maybe we could have been more ruthless. I was still jumping around at 4-0 because we got a bit sloppy at times.
“We’ve got to keep our foot down. We’ve got to be at full-tilt every day, otherwise we’ve got no chance.”
Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi reflected on a defeat for which his side must take collective responsibility.
“It’s difficult to explain,” he said. “We are all responsible for this defeat. It’s very tough to accept, to understand. But I think we can learn a lot from this day, this game.
“We have to remember very well this defeat. But in the same way we have to forget. They are all responsible, me first of all.
“We have to remember from where we started. We are Brighton, we are a good team, we have good players. But to show our qualities, we have to push every day.”