Emil Riis celebrated his new contract with a brace against Luton Town as Preston North End claimed a 2-0 victory over the Hatters.
Riis, who signed a new deal running until 2025 on Friday, opened the scoring with a superb strike from a tight angle outside the area, and he got his second in the final stages of the first half from the penalty spot after Ali McCann was fouled.
There weren’t many chances of note in the opening stages of the game and the deadlock was broken after 27 minutes – in some style too – with Riis picking the ball up outside the right-hand side of the box, and while it looked like he was getting ready to cross, he somehow picked out the far corner with a ferocious hit.
North End could have doubled their lead less than ten minutes later, as Riis laid the ball back for Sean Maguire, although he saw his shot deflected over the bar by a defender.
There was a contentious moment soon after; following a challenge between Tom Lockyer and Alan Browne, the Luton man appeared to shove North End’s captain to the ground, however both picked up the same punishment in the form of a yellow card.
Five minutes before half-time, Luton had their first real chance of the game, as James Bree had his free-kick headed goalwards by Glen Rea. That effort was kept out by Daniel Iversen but fell to the feet of Kal Naismith, and the Danish goalkeeper was quick to rush out and block his shot.
It looked as though it would be 1-0 heading into the break then, but when McCann was fouled two minutes into injury time, referee Dean Whitestone had no choice but to point to the spot, and Riis stepped up to get his second of the day, slamming home to the goalkeeper’s left.
The Hatters made two changes at the break and one of them was involved straight away. Admiral Muskwe took the ball out of the air to volley it into the ground and goalwards, forcing Iversen to make a good save to tip it round the post.
At the other end, the Maguire and Riis strike partnership almost resulted in another goal, with the Irishman feeding the Dane between two centre halves, but he couldn’t find the target with his effort.
Maguire was creating again on 64 minutes, playing a smart ball over the top to Barkhuizen, who took the ball down on his chest and Simon Sluga denied his shot at the near post, putting it out for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Sluga was again called into action as he tipped Patrick Bauer’s header over the bar.
Riis had the chance to grab his hat-trick 15 minutes from the end, with Barkhuizen finding him in the air, but his header went narrowly over the bar.
The Dane was then through on goal 85 minutes in, tugged to the ground by Lockyer, however referee Whitestone waved away appeals with the striker left on the ground.
Riis turned creator with a minute left on the clock, sending substitute Scott Sinclair through on goal, but the forward was thwarted by Sluga.
It was North End's 'keeper who would pull off the best save of the game, though, as a Bauer deflection on Naismith's effort looked as though it would wrongfoot the shot-stopper, but he remarkably stuck out his right hand to tip it over and maintain his clean sheet.
PNE line-up: Iversen; van den Berg, Bauer, Hughes; Barkhuizen, McCann (Ledson, 90+2), Whiteman, Browne, Earl; Maguire (Sinclair, 76), Riis (Potts, 90+2). Subs not used: Rudd, Cunningham, Johnson, Storey.
Luton line-up: Sluga; Lockyer, Bradley (Lansbury, 45), Naismith; Bree, Clark, Rea (Muskwe, 45), Ruddock Mpanzu, Bell; Jerome, Cornick (Onyedinma, 70). Subs: Shea, Hylton, Burke, Campbell.
Referee: Mr D Whitestone
Attendance: 11,059 (989 Luton fans)