Arsenal edged out by Manchester City in FA Youth Cup semi-final
Arsenal drew 2-2 with Manchester City in the second leg of their FA Youth Cup semi-final at the Emirates Stadium last night.
The result wasn’t enough to take the young Gunners through to the final having lost the first leg 2-1 in Manchester, and they exit 3-4 on aggregate.
A crowd of over 4,000, including Thierry Henry, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere – who was part of Arsenal’s last FA Youth Cup-winning side of 2009, turned out to cheer the youngsters on.
Arsenal made the better start and deservedly took the lead in the 6th minute when Chris Willock took the ball onto his right foot and his low shot into the bottom corner beat City goalkeeper Daniel Grimshaw.
Kaylen Hinds went close to doubling the lead shortly afterwards forcing a fine save from Grimshaw.
But against the run of play City hit back in the seventeenth minute to level when striker Lukas Nmecha’s shot was saved by Hugo Keto, only for the waiting Brahim Diaz to nod home the rebound from close range.
A lapse of defensive concentration after a foul by Krystian Bielik just after the half-hour mark paved the way for City to take the lead on the night. With the Arsenal defence slow to get themselves organised, Manu Garcia’s quick free kick was converted by Rodney Kongolo past Keto to put City in control of the tie.
Arsenal pressed for an equaliser before half-time with Grimshaw’s quick reactions keeping out a low deflected effort from Jeff Reine-Adelaide.
Somewhat against the run of play Arsenal found themselves 2-1 behind at the break and 4-2 on aggregate.
Manchester City started the second-half on the front foot with Jacob Davenport going close on 51 minutes to increasing their lead, but he curled his shot wide of the post.
Moments later the home crowd thought Arsenal should have been awarded a penalty, when Stephy Mavididi was brought down on the edge of the box by City captain Tosin Adarabioyo. Referee Darren Deadman though waved away the penalty claims.
Donyell Malen replaced Mavididi on the hour mark and made an almost-immediate impact, finding himself unmarked in the box and heading home Arsenal’s second goal of the evening to level the scores on the night.
City domintated possession in the closing stages, with Diaz going close to adding a third goal after meeting a cross from Javairo Dilrosen.
Arsenal had one final opportunity when Grimshaw was penalised for handling the ball outside of his area. The resulting free kick, whipped in by substitute Ben Sheaf, was palmed away by the City keeper.
So an excellent effort by the young Gunners on the night, but not quite enough to win through to the final.
In many ways this young Arsenal side is a mirror image of the first team. A number of technically gifted and skilful players. But prone to defensive lapses and not being clinical in front of goal. As with the first team there was also a lack of guile in game management and a lack of leadership in rallying the players after City went ahead.
City now face a two-leg final against the winners of this week’s other semi-final tie, between Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers.
Arsenal: 1 Hugo Keto; 2 Chiori Johnson (12 Ben Sheaf, 85), 6 Marc Bola, 5 Krystian Bielik (captain), 3 Tyrell Robinson; 4 Reiss Nelson, 8 Ismael Bennacer; 11 Chris Willock, 10 Kaylen Hinds, 7 Jeff Reine-Adelaide; 9 Stephy Mavididi.
Subs: 14 Marcus McGuane for Bennacer (60), 15 Donyell Malen for Mavididi (60), 12 Ben Sheaf for Johnson (85)
Subs not used: 13 Joao Virginia, 16 Kris Da Graca
Goals: Willock (6), Malen (62)
Sent off: Bola (75)