Our under-21s made it through to the quarter-finals of the Premier League Cup in dramatic fashion after Mauro Bandeira bagged an extra-time winner against Reading.
Catalin Cirjan had opened the scoring in the first half but a surprise goal from the visitors forced our young Gunners to find the win in extra time.
We made a positive start to proceedings at Meadow Park, forcing Reading keeper Boyce Clarke into a number of early saves. Joel Ideho, Lino Sousa and Catalin Cirjan all tested the Reading goal in the opening stages and it didn't take too long for us to find our breakthrough.
With 30 minutes gone, Ben Cottrell sent a sensationally driven ball from the halfway line to Cirjan waiting at the edge of the area. Our Romanian midfielder controlled the ball beautifully on the half-turn and then slotted home to put us ahead.
Ideho nearly doubled our lead before half-time but his shot just whistled just past the far post. Our Gunners headed into the tunnel in control of the game.
After a dominant first half, we were caught out by the visitors when Carson rocketed a strike into the top right-hand corner from 25 yards out to equalise. With Reading's momentum building, Hubert Graczyk showed great composure five minutes later to save a tricky one-on-one and the ball was scrambled to safety.
In search of the winner, Cottrell and Cirjan linked up well again. Cottrell's exquisite trivela cross found Cirjan in space but he couldn't quite keep his shot down and it flew over the crossbar.
Cottrell had a shooting opportunity of his own in the dying minutes of the match but good work from the Reading keeper once again meant the knockout game went to extra time.
Mauro Bandeira was subbed on at the end of the 90 and his impact was immediate. After Charles Sagoe Jr played him in near the front post, Bandeira rifled the ball into the net to give us a well-earned advantage.
Not content with a one-goal cushion, we continued to press for another and nearly found one through Sagoe Jr, whose shot smashed the side netting. The full-time whistle blew, signalling a job well done from our young Gunners to progress to the next round of the cup.
What it means
We now head into the quarter-finals of the Premier League Cup. With five more Round of 16 matches to be played, we are yet to know our opponents.
Mehmet Ali's side are next in action on February 7, as we take on PSV Eindhoven in the Premier League International Cup. A win against the Dutch side is vital in order to stand a chance of progressing to the next round.
Arsenal Starting XI: Graczyk (GK), Walters, Kacurri (Nichols, 65), Awe, Sousa, Smith (C), Ibrahim (Nwaneri, 46), Cirjan, Cottrell (Bandeira, 91), Ideho, Sagoe Jr
Subs not used: Cooper (GK), Jeffcott
Reading Starting XI: Boyce-Clarke (GK), Paul, Carson, Songa, Maragh, Abbey (C), Akande, Craig (Borgnis, 105), Ehibhatiomhan, Leavy (Osorio, 90), Camara (Scott, 72)
Subs not used: Maunder, Collins
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