Arsenal’s u18s progressed to the knockout stages of the Premier League Cup with a 4-2 win over Stoke City.
The Gunners went into the match knowing they’d need a win, as losing to Manchester United and beating Wolves had left them level with all three other teams in their group on three points, with a game to play.
The group winners from each Premier League Cup group advance to the knockout rounds, along with two of the best runners-up from the six groups. So the only way to guarantee qualification is to finish top.
Luckily, Arsenal took an early lead through Xavier Amaechi, who picked up a fantastic pass from Josh Benson and placed it past the keeper. The lead didn’t last long, as Abdoulaye Toure found an equaliser for Stoke before 10 minutes were up.
Arsenal had the best of the rest of the first half, but couldn’t make the breakthrough, and the sides went in level at half-time.
At the start of the second half, the Gunners were punished for not making the most of their earlier opportunities. Stoke took the lead when Nathan Collins poked home from a corner.
Emile Smith Rowe, who had looked the most likely to score for Arsenal, put away the leveller after a good solo run, to make it 2-2.
With less than 15 minutes to go, Robbie Burton turned home a rebound from a Smith Rowe shot. Stoke started to chase the game, and Smith Rowe took advantage, beating two defenders before setting up Matt Smith for 4-2.
That’s how the game ended, and with two wins from three, Arsenal’s u18s finished the group on six points.
Wolves beat Manchester United 3-2 in the other match, which left them on six points as well. However, their goal difference was zero, compared to Arsenal’s three, so the Gunners won the group and will now progress to the quarter-finals.
Line-up: Virginia, Daley-Campbell, Omole, Benson, Ballard, Medley, Amaechi, Smith, Coyle, Burton, Smith Rowe.
Subs: Olayinka (for Amaechi) Unused: Thompson, Okonkwo, Spencer-Adams, Beckford.