Arsenal under-19s were defeated 1-0 by Racing Club Lens in the UEFA Youth League match held on 3 October at the Stade Francois-Blin in France.

A penalty in the first-half stoppage time, converted by Ayanda Sishuba, sealed the win for the French side.

Arsenal U19 started the match confidently, dominating possession and making progress.

Coach Mehmet Ali‘s side, already missing Ethan Nwaneri and Myles Lewis-Skelly due to injuries, had a few close calls but failed to capitalise on them.

“It led to a penalty and the timing of the goal was unfortunate for us,” Ali said.

Captain Reuell Walters led a forward break 10 minutes into the game, passing to Amario Cozier-Duberry on the right, whose cross was ultimately too strong for Omari Benjamin in the centre.

Lens first posed a threat at the 15-minute mark when Kembo Diliwidi intercepted a loose pass but shot straight at goalkeeper Alexei Rojas-Fedorushchenko.

As the first half neared its end, Lens were awarded a penalty after Sousa fouled Sishuba in the box.

Sishuba then successfully converted the penalty, tipping the balance in favour of the French team.

“I felt like we started the game well,” said Ali. “But we still had the second half. My frustrations weren’t so much with the first half, but more with the second half and how we didn’t really take the game to our opponents.”

In the second half, Lens carried their momentum, and despite strong defensive efforts from Walters and Ayden Heaven, Arsenal couldn’t find the back of the net.

Charles Sagoe Jr, fresh off his first-team debut against Brentford, led a rare incursion into the Lens box but stumbled as he tried to turn his man.

“We were dominating. I thought in possession we did some nice movements and got into some good areas but it was just the final action really,” said Sagoe Jr. “It was a tough game in this atmosphere as well, but we’ll just take the learnings from it and go again.”

The defeat leaves Arsenal still searching for their first point in the group, having previously lost 2-1 to PSV Eindhoven.

Despite the setbacks, both players and coach see the competition as a valuable learning experience. “It’s a great competition to be involved in,” Ali affirmed, looking ahead to the team’s next fixture against Sevilla.

“We haven’t got off to a good start, so we’ll look in the mirror, not feel sorry for ourselves, and make sure we go again in the next game.”

The loss marks Arsenal’s second defeat in the competition, but the team remains optimistic about future matches. Sagoe Jr summed it up, saying, “They’re different play styles, especially against PSV, very technical, and a Lens side as well that are very physical and very dominant.

“Pace, strength, I can’t lie it’s been a very good experience and we’ll try our best in the next games to pick up results so we can get out of the group.”