FA Youth Cup fourth round
Liverpool 2 (Jones 2) Arsenal 3 (Burton, Saka, John-Jules) a.e.t.
Tyreece John-Jules scored an extra-time winner as Arsenal U18s showed terrific spirit to come from behind and secure a victory away to Liverpool at Anfield in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup this afternoon.
Back at the ground where Arsenal last won this prestigious trophy, Kwame Ampadu’s side opened the scoring through the in-form Robbie Burton, only for Liverpool to seize control of the tie courtesy of a brace from Curtis Jones.
However, schoolboy substitute Bukayo Saka found the net late in normal time and the winger turned provider for John-Jules, who scored the decisive goal in the 97th minute to set up a fifth round tie away to Middlesbrough.
Arsenal were without Reiss Nelson, who made his Premier League debut against Crystal Palace today, while Joseph Olowu was again absent due to injury.
Ampadu made one alteration to the side that beat Sheffield Wednesday in the last round of the competition, with Trae Coyle starting at the expense of Josh Benson.
Subs: Saka (for Coyle), Benson (for Amaechi), Omole (for Ballard). Not used: Okonkwo, Balogun.
Liverpool, coached by Steven Gerrard, started the game brightly, with Edvard Tagseth causing difficulties for the Arsenal defence.
Arsenal, though, soon provided an indication of their own attacking intent, with John-Jules getting into a good position only to drag his shot wide.
That attempt served as a warning for Liverpool yet they failed to heed it as shortly afterwards Arsenal took the lead when Burton’s deflected effort went in.
Striker Liam Millar perhaps should have pulled Liverpool level quickly, but he squandered an inviting opportunity and then Tagesth’s deflected effort went over the crossbar.
In an engaging game, Liverpool then equalised as Rafael Camacho cleverly found Jones, who slotted the ball past Joao Virginia.
Liverpool were pleased to have equalised prior to the break but they were delighted to take the lead just after the interval, with Jones getting on the scoresheet again.
On this occasion the Liverpool number ten received an element of fortune as his effort took a deflection which deceived Virginia, but he was elated with the strike nonetheless.
Liverpool thought they had scored a third goal shortly afterwards when Millar headed in but, much to Arsenal’s relief, the effort was ruled out for offside.
John-Jules missed another good chance but Arsenal started to create more opportunities, with Xavier Amaechi causing problems for the Liverpool defence.
Arsenal then sent on Saka in place of Coyle and that proved to be an inspired move as the winger equalised in the 85th minute with a powerful strike.
Just prior to that Danny Ballard had made a crucial intervention to cut out a Liverpool attack, and those two incidents helped to swing the game in Arsenal’s favour.
Saka’s goal took the game into extra-time and Arsenal continued to grow in confidence, with Amaechi, who starred in the last round, and Emile Smith Rowe, both coming close to scoring.
It was John-Jules who proved to be the hero, with the forward scoring from close range having been found by Saka.
Arsenal’s determination had paid off and they managed to withstand some late Liverpool pressure, with substitutes Benson and Tobi Omole helping the cause.
This is a very talented group of Arsenal players and, having claimed a significant scalp, they will be hopeful of enjoying a lengthy run in this competition and perhaps winning it for the first time in almost a decade.