By Connor Armstrong at Emirates Stadium
Arsenal Under-23s were made to pay as Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners on Friday evening.
The influential Dan Woodburn scored twice in the opening 45 minutes, first slotting past Matt Macey from close range before sending a thumping effort into the top corner.
Chuba Akpom responded in style when he sent a thunderous effort into the net via the woodwork, as the Gunners finally turned a spell of pressure in the final third into a goal.
However, the hosts were almost immediately pegged back when Toni Gomes poked home from inside the six-yard box to wrap up the win for the visitors.
SETTING THE SCENE
Steve Gatting welcomed back Krystian Bielik, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Akpom as the Gunners took to the Emirates pitch.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles started at right back, while Bielik partnered Kris Da Graca at the heart of the defence.
That partnership meant that Ben Sheaf returned to midfield, where he was joined by captain Ismael Bennacer and Vlad Dragomir.
Akpom started up front, with Chris Willock and Reine-Adelaide on the wings.
Both sides endured a tough opening 10 minutes, with the early exchanges characterised by both teams struggling to retain possession.
The visitors took the lead with the first meaningful chance of the game, when Woodburn slotted past Macey after a swift counter-attack.
Maitland-Niles saw an effort turned away at the near post, before a short corner routine almost yielded an equaliser but for Caoimhin Kelleher’s save from Bielik’s header.
Two minutes before the interval, Liverpool doubled their lead with Woodburn fizzing a powerful effort beyond the reach of Macey and into the top corner.
It was a cagey start to the second period, with Arsenal having Macey to thank for preventing a third Liverpool goal when he rushed from his line and smothered a through ball.
Reine-Adelaide’s short corner found Sheaf soon after, but the midfielder could only curl an effort into the arms of Kelleher.
A spell of home pressure eventually resulted in a goal, with Akpom swivelling before sending an effort crashing into the net via the underside of the crossbar.
The reduced deficit lasted for just five minutes, with Gomes chalking up a third goal for the visitors when he pounced to tap in from close range.
Substitute Josh Dasilva forced a save out of Kelleher late on as the Gunners looked to battle back into the game, but it proved fruitless.
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