SUMMARYArsenal Under-19s stayed top of their Uefa Youth League group despite being held to a goalless draw at home to Borussia Dortmund at Meadow Park.
The young Gunners have seven points and remain in pole position to qualify for the knockout stages. But they were left to rue a Chuba Akpom penalty that was saved midway through the first half.
The game was an extremely scrappy affair and Arsenal struggled to break down a well-organised German side. Both teams were reduced to 10 men late on in a game that also saw six bookings. Nico Knystock committed a second bookable offence on 81 minutes and Akpom was sent off moments later.
Steve Gatting made one change from the team that beat Napoli last time out. Despite netting a brace in that game, Austin Lipman dropped to the bench with Kris Olsson returning from injury to partner Jack Jebb and Glen Kamara in the middle of midfield.
It was a cagey start from both teams. The visitors had the first sight of goal in the 14th minute when Linus Schewior found space on the right and fizzed a dangerous ball across the face of goal.
This woke up the home side a touch and on 18 minutes they had their first opportunity. Olsson floated in a corner towards the unmarked Akpom but the forward mistimed his jump.
Three minutes later, the Gunners missed a golden chance to take the lead. Maitland-Niles got the wrong side of Nico Knystock on the right edge of the area and was through on goal, only to be hauled down by the Dortmund left back, giving referee Arnold Hunter no choice but to point to the spot. Despite missing from 12 yards in the Napoli game, Akpom resumed penalty duties but he was denied again by an excellent low save from Steffen Goecke.
The game remained tight for the rest of the first half. In the 34th minute, Jebb’s free-kick looked destined for the top corner but it took a big deflection off the wall and sailed over.
In the 44th minute Pascal Stenzel tried an overhead kick from just inside the area but it flew safely over Deyan Iliev’s crossbar.
The match remained uneventful and scrappy at the start of the second half. Alex Iwobi tried to bring the game to life in the 56th minute with a brilliant piece of skill to turn away from three defenders, before sliding an acute pass into Akpom, but he was adjudged to be marginally offside.
Nils Lennart Dietz tried his luck from range on 63 minutes but his dipping shot flew wide. Five minutes later Burak Camoglu shot from a similar distance but his effort sailed high and wide.
In the 74th minute Iwobi and Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill combined well before the left back sent in a fizzing low cross that Goecke did well to smother.
Arsenal’s best chance of the half came with just over 10 minutes to go when Jebb swung in a free-kick towards Akpom but his header was weak and Goecke saved with ease.
Dortmund were reduced to 10 men in the 81st minute when Knystock tripped Maitland-Niles by the corner flag, earning him a second booking.
But Gatting’s side couldn’t make their numerical advantage count and they struggled to create anything more than a couple of dangerous Ormonde-Ottewill crosses.
Akpom received his marching orders with a minute to go for a late challenge on Patrick Franke and the game petered out to a draw. It was a fair result.
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