By Connor Armstrong at London Colney
Arsenal Under-21s came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Bournemouth in a behind-closed-doors friendly at London Colney on Saturday.
The hosts fell behind in the 16th minute when a through ball split the defence, enabling a low drive to squirm underneath the body of Hugo Keto.
The Cherries proceeded to double their lead despite being limited to counter attacks, slotting past Keto in the 39th minute.
The Gunners trailed by two goals at the break, but halved the deficit in the 48th minute when Eddie Nketiah’s curling effort beat the Bournemouth goalkeeper.
Arsenal left it late, but levelled the scores when Nketiah poked home an inviting cross from Emile Smith-Rowe.
Setting the Scene
Steve Gatting named Tafari Moore, Kristopher da Graca and Ismael Bennacer in the starting XI, with Nketiah joined on the bench by Joe Willock and Josh Da Silva.
Keto started in goal ahead of Joao Virginia, while Ben Sheaf partnered Vlad Dragomir and Bennacer in midfield.
Aaron Eyoma also started, as did Donyell Malen.
Arsenal started on the front foot, with Malen seeing both a header and an overhead kick drop wide of the post inside the opening 10 minutes.
The visitors then stung the Gunners, when a quick pass in behind led to a drilled effort squirming underneath Keto to break the deadlock.
Bournemouth were buoyed by the opener and twice went close, with Keto reacting quickly to make two smart stops.
Tyrell Robinson’s cross was then headed back across goal by Savvas Mourgos, but Malen’s low effort was comfortably held by the Cherries keeper.
The visitors found the net again six minutes before the break, when Keto was beaten in a one-on-one.
The Gunners hit back immediately at the start of the second period, after a raft of changes which saw only Da Graca, Dragomir, Sheaf and Mourgos return to the field for the second half.
Dragomir won possession after pressuring the visitors into a mistake, before angling an inch-perfect pass to Nketiah, whose curling effort rattled in off the bar.
Arsenal then went in search of an equaliser, but Sheaf was crowded out before Nathan Tella fired into the side-netting.
Nketiah then saw three efforts turned away by the Bournemouth goalkeeper as the hosts began to turn the screw.
Nketiah’s persistence would eventually pay dividends, when he prodded home late on after racing on to a cross from Smith-Rowe.
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