UEFA Youth League
Arsenal 2 (Mavididi 2) PSG 2
By Jeorge Bird @ Meadow Park
Stephy Mavididi struck a dramatic late equaliser to secure Arsenal a 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain and keep their hopes of reaching the Last 16 of the UEFA Youth League alive.
Arsenal knew that a loss would send them out of the competition but they fell behind in the first half to a goal from Antoine Bernede before Mavididi equalised from the penalty spot.
There was a hectic conclusion to proceedings as Felix Eboa Eboa restored PSG’s lead but Mavdidi struck at the death to make it 2-2.
There is still work to do- Arsenal must beat Basel away by two clear goals on the final matchday- but they are still alive in this competition.
After the game U18s coach Kwame Ampadu reflected that this was a “get out of jail free” moment for Arsenal, who hadn’t been at their best.
Chris Willock was absent but Jeff Reine-Adelaide started, while Kaylen Hinds was also involved from the outset.
Johnson-Da Graca-Bielik-T. Bola
Subs: DaSilva (for Malen, 81), Nketiah (for Da Graca, 83), Dragomir (for McGuane, 88). Not used: Virginia, Osei-Tutu, Mourgos, Eyoma.
Arsenal immediately adopted a very attacking approach, with Krystian Bielik, in contrast to his usual style, playing several searching long balls out from the back.
Reiss Nelson had a penalty claim turned down as Arsenal made a bright start and then Donyell Malen spun expertly only for his finish to lack conviction.
Thereafter PSG seized control, with Arsenal losing the midfield battle, where Reine-Adelaide was unable to have much of an impact.
Chiori Johnson misjudged a ball and further disappointing defending from Arsenal presented Bernede with the opportunity to open the scoring, with the PSG player duly obliging.
Arsenal looked to respond, with the dangerous Mavididi crossing for Malen, who was unable to find the net from close range.
Nelson, one of the few bright sparks in the Arsenal team, then shot wide but at the other end Hugo Keto had to be alert to make two impressive saves in quick succession after Marcus McGuane had squandered possession.
Somewhat against the run of play, Arsenal managed to claw their way back into the game, with Kaylen Hinds being brought down in the penalty area and Mavididi converting the spot-kick successfully.
Arsenal could even have gone into the break in front but Kristopher Da Graca’s header lacked conviction.
In the early stages of the second half Keto had to make another good stop to prevent PSG from regaining the lead.
Nelson then, having been instructed to take players on by coach Freddie Ljungberg, weaved his way past several PSG defenders before his effort hit the side-netting.
PSG continued to threaten at the other end and Keto, rather remarkably, made three impressive saves in a short period of time, with his defenders helping to clear the danger.
Arsenal had several substitutes warming up but Andries Jonker waited until very late before making an alteration, with Josh DaSilva replacing Malen in the 81st minute.
Not long afterwards PSG were in front, with Eboa Eboa capitalising upon some static defending to make it 2-1.
Arsenal, on the verge of exiting the competition in the group stages for the first time, had to go all out to score in the limited time they had left, and that is exactly what they did.
Jonker made the decision to switch to playing three at the back, with Reine-Adelaide pushed out wide and Nketiah sent on in search of a goal. Shortly afterwards Vlad Dragomir came on for McGuane.
The change in approach worked, with Mavididi finding the net, sparking wild celebrations.
For the remaining moments Jonker reverted to playing a back four, with DaSilva filling in at left-back, and Arsenal managed to gain a point that keeps them in this competition, for now at least.