West Ham United gave departing David Moyes a victorious send-off as they pulled down the curtain on their home campaign at London Stadium with a workmanlike win in this penultimate match of the season.

On an afternoon when Albert Sambi Lokonga gave Luton Town an interval lead to keep their feint survival hopes alive, the Hammers made a stirring second-half comeback as goals from James Ward-Prowse, Tomàš Souček and substitute George Earthy sent the heartbroken Hatters - barring a mathematical miracle – back down into the EFL Championship.

Last Sunday’s forlorn, five-goal thrashing at Stamford Bridge had ended West Ham’s unlikely European qualification hopes and kicking off in ninth spot – nine places and 23 points above the visitors - that left Moyes men with only pride and a top-half finish to play for.

Coming into his 261st – and penultimate - game in charge of West Ham across two spells, the Scot made just one change from that defeat at Chelsea as Ward-Prowse replaced substitute Edson Álvarez.

Gathering at London Stadium for the last time this season, the shirt-sleeved Hammers fans were still regaling their team with a final hearty chorus of ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’ when the Hatters silenced them with a quickfire opener.

Indeed, only six minutes were on the clock, when Elijah Adebayo’s left-wing cross was charged down by Vladimír Coufal but the supporting Alfie Doughty was on hand to recycle the loose ball and deliver an enticing cross to the edge of the six-yard box, where Lokonga darted in front of the flat-footed Angelo Ogbonna to send a thumping diving header beyond Alphonse Areola.

On loan from Arsenal, the once-capped Belgium international could not have picked a better time to record his first goal for Rob Edwards’ struggling side – the 71st conceded by the Hammers this season and one more than when Avram Grant’s side were relegated in 2010/11.

With those chants of Bubbles now burst, the visiting supporters – having seen their side’s meteoric climb up the footballing pyramid - responded with a rendition of ‘Conference champions you’ll never sing that.’

If the Hammers had gone off the boil during 2024 with just three wins from their last 17 Premier League matches this year, then Luton had fared yet worse with just one victory in their previous 15 outings dating back to February.

To their credit, though, the newly-promoted Hatters – who lost the reverse fixture 2-1 at Kenilworth Road in August – have battled bravely without due reward throughout a season of struggle but with just two matches remaining they had still arrived in the East End in the dreaded drop zone – three points adrift of 17th-placed Nottingham Forest and, poignantly, with a worse double-digit goal difference, too.

Indeed, last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Everton did little to boost their survival hopes and coming into this penultimate, must-win match Edwards named an unchanged line-up that included former Academy of Football graduates Reece Burke in central defence with Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu on the bench.

Now the Hatters had hope and defending their early foothold on the contest, Ross Barkley was booked for dragging down Michail Antonio, while Mohammed Kudus sent a low, angled effort wide before Jarrod Bowen volleyed past the left-hand upright ahead of seeing Teden Mengi block another shot from the Hammers 20-goal man.

On the half-hour mark, Kudus slashed a 20-yarder high and wide before Souček finally forced Thomas Kaminski into his first save of the afternoon, the well-placed Luton keeper fielding a 20-yarder from the Czech Republic midfielder.

Just before the break, Barkley hobbled away with a foot injury as Jordan Clark stepped from the bench but as they departed at the interval with their early lead still intact against a Hammers side lacking ideas, invention and incisiveness, that was the only blot on an encouraging, battling opening 45 minutes for Luton.   

Shortly after the restart the Hammers won only their second corner of the afternoon but with Bowen’s flag-kick quickly being cleared upfield, it was left to Emerson to halt the breaking figure of Tahith Chong at the expense of a harsh booking.

On 54 minutes, though, the Hammers did finally find a way back into the encounter, when Bowen’s burst down the right climaxed with a low, angled shot that Kaminski saved with his right foot and, with the ball now ricocheting off Burke, Ward-Prowse strolled onto the rebound and fired a low 15-yarder inside the left-hand upright.

With a seventh goal of the season from West Ham’s No.7 bringing his side on level pegging, the mood around Stratford changed dramatically for everyone in Claret and Blue and having got one, Moyes boys now went in search of a second with the leaping Bowen almost nodding Doughty’s back-header over Kaminski.

After a virtually redundant first half, the Hatters keeper now found himself to be the busiest man in the capital, brilliantly tipping aside Antonio’s looping header before Bowen lashed the rebound into the side-netting.

Emerson also drilled high over before West Ham did indeed get themselves in front midway through the second half. 

With Chong finding himself ambushed by a trio of Hammers on the right touchline, Ward-Prowse whipped a teasing cross into the danger-zone, where Lokonga only succeeded in heading clear to Souček, who sent an unstoppable 18-yard half-volley back through the pack to take his season’s goal tally into double figures.

Kudus should have then bagged a third but he wastefully side-footed onto the left-hand post with the entire target in clear sight and, with Antonio retiring with a quarter-hour remaining, his replacement Earthy’s magic moment arrived.

Last time out, the 19-year-old had emerged from the dug-out against Fulham only to be pole-axed by team-mate Álvarez and transported semi-conscious from the field but there was a much happier story now.

Within just seconds of his arrival the substitute was celebrating his first-ever senior goal for the Club when Coufal embarked on a rare raid forward from his own half before playing Kudus into the penalty area.

Quick as a flash, the Ghanaian cleverly made his way to byline, where he cut back towards the near-post and, having timed his run to perfection, the eager Earthy arrived bang on cue to tap home from just a couple of yards to cement three points for the Hammers and give Moyes that happy Stratford send-off.

WEST HAM UNITED: Areola, Coufal, Emerson (Cresswell 84), Zouma, Ogbonna, (Casey 90+3), Ward-Prowse, Souček, Paquetá (Ings 84), Kudus, Bowen, Antonio (Earthy 75). Unused subs: Fabiański, Johnson, Cornet, Álvarez, Mubama.

LUTON TOWN: Kaminski, Burke (Woodrow 87), Mengi, Osho, Lokonga, Barkley (Clark 39), Onyedinma (Ogbene 73), Doughty (Berry 87), Morris, Chong, Adebayo. Unused subs: Krul, Mpanzu, Hashioka, Townsend, Johnson.

Booked: Burke (10), Emerson (52), Burke (79) Morris (83).

Referee: Michael Oliver