By Connor Armstrong
Eddie Nketiah inspired our under-18s to a dramatic 4-3 victory over Manchester City at London Colney on Wednesday.
Lukas Nmecha - who scored at Emirates Stadium as our under-23s drew 3-3 earlier this season - put the visitors in front after just 14 minutes.
Nketiah then struck twice in five minutes midway through the first half, before Jadon Sancho’s leveller shortly before the interval.
Tolaji Bola’s cross deceived Arijanet Muric to find the back of the net and restore our lead, only for Nmecha to make it 3-3 with 20 minutes to play.
But within just three minutes of Nmecha’s equaliser, Nketiah struck once more to complete his hat-trick with the game’s telling goal. He could’ve scored again in added time, but was unable to convert a spot-kick.
SETTING THE SCENE
Joao Virginia started in goal for Kwame Ampadu’s side, with Alex Crean on the bench.
Jordi Osei-Tutu and Bola started as the two full-backs, with Zech Medley partnering Joseph Olowu in central defence.
Marcus McGuane and captain Josh Dasilva paired up in the heart of the midfield, with Joe Willock in a more advanced role.
Emile Smith-Rowe and Donyell Malen started on the flanks, with Nketiah leading our attack.
On an afternoon of ups and downs, it was the visitors who struck first when a slick passing move carved open our defence, enabling Nmecha to take a touch before stroking past Virginia.
The opening exchanges set the tone for an end-to-end affair, with Willock charging upfield and holding off challenges before slotting Nketiah into space to provide a controlled finish and level the scores.
Nketiah had the bit between his teeth and soon capitalised on a defensive error, seizing on a slack pass across the back-line before sending Muric to ground with a fake shot and rolling the ball into the gaping goal.
There was a hint of good fortune about the Citizens’ second goal, with Sancho burrowing in from the left before dragging a low effort just inside the far post.
The game’s opening goal had come after just 14 minutes of play, but Bola went one better by finding the net with a fortunate effort just 13 minutes after the restart.
Manchester City were then awarded a penalty when Nmecha went to ground and appeared to be sandwiched between two or three Arsenal bodies as he looked to enter the area.
Nmecha picked himself up to dispatch the spot-kick, sending Virginia the wrong way with a low, well-struck drive.
The game’s winning goal was a thing of beauty, with McGuane and Nketiah swapping a series of short, sharp passes on the edge of the area before the latter Cruyff-turned away from his marker before finishing on his weak foot.
It was classic Arsenal football.
On this occasion it proved enough to secure the victory, even if Nketiah’s late penalty was held by Muric after the forward had been brought to ground.
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