We officially reopened the Arsenal Academy facility at Hale End on Friday, following a major redevelopment project.
To celebrate the completion of the new facility, we held the Liam Brady Cup at Hale End over the weekend.
Our under-16s competed against teams from Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Juventus in matches lasting 20 minutes a half - and we got off to the best possible start with a 4-2 win over Bayern in our first game.
Flo Balogun gave us a second-minute lead after turning in the box and burying a shot before Bayern equalised from the penalty spot soon after. Our lead was restored when Bukayo Sako sprinted down the left before finding Tyreece John-Jules, who finished well from 18 yards.
John-Jules was on target again in the second half, steering a shot into the roof of the net after a goalmouth scramble, before Sako made it 4-1 from the penalty spot.
Bayern did pull one back late on, but we topped the table after the first round of games, with goal difference keeping us above Manchester United, our opponents in the second game.
Coach Trevor Bumstead made plenty of changes to the starting XI, with the match kicking off just an hour after the first.
Alfie Matthews twice went close to opening the scoring - on one occasion, his lob was cleared off the line by a retreating defender, on the next, his header was flicked onto the bar by the goalkeeper.
The opening goal did eventually come, and Matthews was again involved, being brought down on the edge of the area. Jordan McNeff’s free-kick was well kept out but the ball fell to Mark McGuinness, who tapped home.
We were well in control and put the seal on the victory with a fine Sako goal. Having combined twice with John-Jules, the winger displayed quick feet to audaciously pirouette past the goalkeeper before chipping in the second.
Despite losing 3-0 to Juventus in our third match, we qualified for the final - again meeting the Italian side.
This time though, the result went in our favour. The final’s only goal came early on, Vontae Daley-Campbell racing down the left before swinging in an inviting low centre that was superbly finished by Xavier Amaechi at the back post.
Amaechi’s goal was enough to ensure the win, with the day ending with Bumstead’s young charges lifting the Liam Brady Cup on the balcony of the newly-reopened building.
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