UEFA Youth League
Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1 (Bennacer)
Arsenal U19s came from behind to secure a point away to their Bayern Munich counterparts today, and, in so doing, edged closer to reaching the knockout stages of the UEFA Youth League.
The young Gunners fell behind early on but equalised through a superb effort from distance from Ismael Bennacer, although they missed an inviting opportunity to take the lead when Ben Sheaf failed to find the net from the penalty spot just before half-time.
Arsenal welcomed back Dan Crowley from his loan spell at Barnsley, with the midfielder playing 45 minutes, but the Gunners were deprived of the services of Alex Iwobi and Jeff Reine-Adelaide, who will be with the first-team tonight. Reiss Nelson, meanwhile, kept his place in the side, with Stephy Mavididi only making the bench.
Krystian Bielik was absent, with Stefan O’Connor coming into the side.
Subs: Agyei-Tabi (for Sheaf, 46), Malen (for Crowley, 46), Eyoma (for Osei-Tutu, 76).
Not used: Huddart, Chatzitheodoridis, Mourgos, Mavididi.
Arsenal ran out victors against Bayern at home, and they started well on this occasion with Kaylen Hinds, deployed as a central striker, doing well to find Chris Willock, who was unable to find a team-mate with his cross.
Despite Arsenal’s bright start it was Bayern who took the lead, with Fabian Benko getting the better of Hugo Keto with an effort from the edge of the area.
Bayern, buoyed by their goal, caused further problems for the Arsenal defence, with Julio Pleguezuelo having to make an important intervention before Keto made an excellent save to prevent Benko from getting his second goal.
Arsenal responded with Nelson doing well to find Crowley, who saw his effort saved, but Keto then had to make two excellent stops in quick succession at the other end to deny Bayern.
The momentum shifted as the half drew to a close, however, with Ismael Bennacer, who made his first-team debut last week, scoring with an excellent strike from 25 yards out to equalise.
The Gunners should have gone into the break in the ascendancy after the dangerous Nelson was fouled in the area, but Ben Sheaf, usually so efficient from the penalty spot, spurned his effort.
Arsenal made a double change at the second-half, with first-year scholars Marcus Agyei-Tabi and Donyell Malen replacing Sheaf and Crowley.
The two new introductions combined well shortly after being brought on, with Agyei-Tabi’s pass finding Malen, whose effort went just wide.
Willock was next to test the Bayern backline, but, after embarking on an impressive run, the England youth international couldn’t find a team-mate with his cross.
Arsenal created further opportunities as they sought to go ahead. Bennacer’s free-kick caused problems for Bayern, with O’Connor ready to react to the rebound, but the German side managed to clear the danger just in time.
Arsenal, for all their attacking momentum, still had to be alert defensively, and Andries Jonker’s side had Agyei-Tabi to thank for clearing the danger as Bayern threatened to regain the lead.
Keto, who was in excellent form again, had to make another late save to preserve parity, and Arsenal held on to edge closer to reaching the Last 16.