Arsenal u23s came from behind to win a rollercoaster clash with Monaco in the Premier League International Cup on Tuesday, progressing to the semi-finals.
The Arsenal u23s faced the AS Monaco second team in the Premier League International Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday, and the game didn’t lack action or goals.
Arsenal named a couple of younger players in the starting lineup, with midfielder Miguel Azeez getting his first start in the competition and Daniel Oyegoke coming in for Zak Swanson at right-back.
Matt Smith’s set-pieces caused problems for the Monaco defence in the first half. In the 17th minute, he put a decent free-kick in, and the keeper spilt it for centre-back Zech Medley to score.
Monaco quickly responded, as poor defending allowed Moussa Sylla to get a goal back. However, Arsenal took the lead again as Smith put another free-kick in for Medley to head home this time.
Before the half-hour mark, Monaco drew level again. This time it was less about Arsenal’s defending and more about an excellent team move from the away side, with Enzo Millot finishing it off.
Once again, it looked like Smith might help Arsenal retake the lead, as a defender had to pull off a risky clearance to prevent another goal from a set-piece.
Despite that, the hosts weren’t creating enough chances from open play, and Monaco had the best of the first half overall. Still, they went in at the break at 2-2.
Before the second period got underway, Arsenal made a couple of substitutions. Daniel Ballard returned to the pitch after a long absence with a knee injury, coming on for Oyegoke and pushing Harry Clarke out to right-back.
Tobi Omole also came on for Miguel Azeez in midfield. The suspicion is that Arsenal were saving Azeez and Oyegoke for the FA Youth Cup match on Friday.
The second half didn’t start well though, with Owen Maes scoring an unstoppable shot from another Monaco cutback. Arsenal made their final substitution five minutes later, with Trae Coyle coming off for Ryan Alebiosu.
Sam Greenwood was playing on the right before the change, but he shifted to the left to make room for Alebiosu. It was Greenwood who found himself in on goal a few minutes later, and when he checked back he was brought down for a penalty.
U23 star striker Folarin Balogun stepped up to take it and fired confidently down the middle for 3-3.
With not long left in the match, Clarke went in for a challenge but slightly mistimed it. It wasn’t a hugely aggressive tackle, but he deserved the yellow card the referee showed him.
The Monaco players went mad though, surrounding the referee and starting fights with their Arsenal counterparts. Millot confronted Ballard and the referee sent him off, though unfortunately, I didn’t catch exactly what he did.
Arsenal took advantage in injury time, as Balogun raced in on goal to score the winner. He lifted a half-volley over the goalkeeper, and the whole ground held their breath as it hung in the air. It fell into the net and sparked celebrations from the home fans.
Arsenal face the winners of the Derby-West Ham quarter-final in the semis, with the match reportedly to take place at the Emirates Stadium. In the meantime, Arsenal play a North London derby at Meadow Park next week on Friday.
Balogun will look to keep his scoring run going, after four goals in his last three games. He has 13 goals and five assists in 19 appearances (16 starts) this season.