By Lloyd Webb at the Ricoh Arena
Hugo Keto was the hero as Arsenal booked their place in the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory against Coventry City.
The goalkeeper made three fantastic saves to give the Gunners a hard-fought win at the end of a topsy-turvey affair at the Ricoh Arena.
The Gunners were punished for a slow start when Jak Hickman opened the scoring with a calm finish, but Tyrell Robinson soon fired into the bottom corner to level matters.
The second half saw good chances go begging at both ends as the game went to extra time, with Donyell Malen putting the Gunners in front.
It looked all over as the game entered the 120th minute, but Coventry's Bassala Sambou had other ideas as poked home an injury-time equaliser to force the game to penalties.
Keto first denied Dan Smith, then Jacob Whitmore and finally Ronee Hendricks to cue wild Arsenal celebrations.
Setting the Scene
Steve Gatting made several changes, with Robinson returning to action following his suspension while Stephy Mavididi started in attack.
Krystian Bielik took the captain’s armband and was joined in central defence by Marc Bola, while Kaylen Hinds returned from injury.
Coventry had a former Gunner in their ranks, with goalkeeper Corey Addai starting for the hosts.
Both sides were slow out the blocks and it took until the 24th minute for the first real chance to present itself as Hickman cut inside and curled the ball into the bottom corner to give the hosts the lead.
The Gunners came roaring back and Reiss Nelson had the Gunners’ first shot when he bent his effort inches wide of the post.
It didn’t take too long for Gatting's side to level the scores as Robinson used his pace to beat his marker before firing the ball into the bottom corner.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide had a big opportunity to give the Gunners the lead but he was denied by a goalline clearance.
Marcus McGuane was next to try his hand but, after a dangerous counter-attack, he blazed his effort over the bar.
Substitute Smith almost made an instant impact when he dribbled forward but dragged his shot wide of the target, and even the efforts of Malen couldn’t break the deadlock. It was going to extra time.
Malen popped up unmarked in the second half of extra time to poke the ball into the net and give the Gunners the lead.
But Sambou, in the dying embers of the game, flicked the ball past Keto to send the game to penalties.
It went to sudden death in the penalty shoot-out after Keto had saved one penalty but Ben Sheaf had missed his.
Reine-Adelaide then struck the post with his effort. Up stepped Jacob Whitmore, and the home crowd held its breath - but Keto made a fine save.
Keto then denied Hendricks to secure the win at the end of a long, but rewarding night for Arsenal.
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