FA Youth Cup Fifth Round
Coventry City 2 (Hickman (23), Sambou (120)) Arsenal 2 (Robinson (36), Malen (105)) (a.e.t.)
Arsenal win 7-6 on penalties
Arsenal U18s secured their place in the Quarter-Finals of the FA Youth Cup in dramatic fashion as Hugo Keto saved three penalties in a shoot out success away to Coventry City tonight.
After an enthralling 120 minutes Arsenal prevailed on penalties, but they were taken all the way by a Coventry side that caused them a multitude of problems.
Coventry took the lead courtesy of Jak Hickman, but Arsenal levelled through Tyrell Robinson. Substitute Donyell Malen looked to have won it in extra-time as he maintained his record of scoring in every game Arsenal have played in this competition this season, but Bassala Sambou struck a late leveller for Coventry to send the game to penalties.
Keto made a trio of saves and, despite Jeff Reine-Adelaide missing his spot kick, Arsenal managed to progress.
The young Gunners will now host Liverpool at Emirates Stadium in the last eight- the first time they have met in this competition since the 2009 Final.
Arsenal were given a significant boost before the game, with Ben Sheaf and Kaylen Hinds returning from injury to make the bench.
Chiori Johnson was given his first start in the competition this season, whilst Reiss Nelson was selected on the right wing ahead of Malen.
Nelson-Reine Adelaide-C. Willock
Subs: Da Graca (for Robinson, 51), Malen (for Mavididi, 75), Sheaf (for McGuane, 105).
Not used: Phillips, Hinds.
Arsenal and Coventry met in the FA Youth Cup Final in 2000, when a Gunners side containing players such as Jerome Thomas, Steve Sidwell and Jay Bothroyd ran out 5-1 winners on aggregate.
On this occasion it was Coventry who started the brightest, with winger Hickman cutting infield before shooting over the crossbar as he squandered the first opportunity of the game.
Thereafter Arsenal saw much of the ball, with the midfield triumvirate of Nelson, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chris Willock all trying their utmost to unlock the Coventry defence.
It was the hosts, however, who would create the next clear-cut chance, with Keto saving to deny Jay Albini.
At the opposite end former Gunner Corey Addai remained relatively untroubled. Keto, meanwhile, had his work cut out, with the Finnish goalkeeper then having to make an intelligent stop to thwart Chris Camwell.
Coventry were relentless in their approach, though, and they were rewarded for their efforts when Hickman finished adroitly in the 24th minute to put them 1-0 up.
It was Nelson who immediately sought to get Arsenal back level, with the schoolboy winger assuming responsibility and shooting just wide.
Soon Arsenal would equalise, and the goal was an impressive one, with Robinson bursting forwards from left-back before sending his effort beyond the reach of Addai.
That goal appeared to provide the young Gunners with an injection of confidence, with Willock then shooting just wide.
The first-half ended 1-1. In contrast to the opening period, it was Arsenal who started the second-half in the ascendancy, with Nelson racing downfield before shooting over.
Kristopher Da Graca entered the fray in place of Robinson, but that did little to dispel Arsenal’s momentum, with Reine-Adelaide then seeing an effort frantically scrambled away off the line.
Hickman then forced Keto into a good save as Coventry provided Arsenal with a reminder of their own attacking prowess.
The Sky Blues had another opportunity to regain the lead, with substitute Dan Smith shooting wide.
The next chance fell to an Arsenal replacement, but Malen couldn’t find the net on this occasion.
Both sides tried their utmost to score a late winner, with Sambou and Nelson coming close for their respective teams, but neither could find the net and the game went to extra-time.
Arsenal started well in extra-time, with Willock sending an effort wide, but they still couldn’t find a second goal.
As the first-half of extra-time wore on players from both sides started to struggle with cramp, with the game becoming a test of endurance as well as ability.
Arsenal almost found the net in spectacular fashion, but Reine-Adelaide’s acrobatic effort was held by Addai, and the scoreline remained level going into the second period of extra-time.
Sheaf entered the fray in place of McGuane at the start of the second-half, but it was an earlier substitute, Malen, who would steal the limelight.
The Dutch forward was perhaps a little unfortunate not to start the game, but he showed terrific composure to finish well from close range and put Arsenal ahead.
From there on in it was a backs to the wall job for Arsenal, with Keto having to make another excellent save before Krystian Bielik made a heroic block. Keto, who has been in excellent form recently, then made another crucial intervention to keep the opposition at bay.
It looked as if Arsenal had managed to get themselves over the line, but Coventry refused to give in, with Sambou finding the net very late on to force penalties.
Nelson took Arsenal’s first penalty and scored, with Darragh Leahy then levelling for Coventry. Malen was next up for the Gunners and scored, but Keto did extremely well to thwart Smith.
The drama was unrelenting, however, as Sheaf then sent his spot kick wide of the post and Jordan Shipley converted to draw Coventry level.
Bennacer, Camwell, Willock, Sambou, Bielik and Finn all scored from the spot, with sudden death ensuing.
Then came an agonising moment as Reine-Adelaide struck the post, but the Frenchman’s blushes were spared as Keto made another stop.
Johnson made it 6-5, with Addai, rather surprisingly, taking Coventry’s next penalty and scoring.
Marc Bola scored Arsenal’s next spot kick and then Keto emerged as the hero by saving yet another penalty.