ARSENAL U19 v PSV EINDHOVEN
August 8th, 2015 – Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa
The Arsenal U19 squad overcame PSV Eindhoven in a thrilling finale to the second annual Durban International U19 Competition, which was staged in and around Durban, South Africa, over the past fortnight.
Having lost to Eindhoven earlier in the competition, the pressure was on the young Gunners to seize the initiative, and they started the game with energy and determination. They showed great maturity, keeping a solid shape at the back, and retaining possession well in the midfield. Gedion Zelalem wowed the crowd with his skill and vision. He dominated the game, dictating its pace and direction; his appearances for the senior team have been tantalizing – his performance on the world-class Moses Mabhida pitch was as majestic as the stadium itself.
Arsenal had a number of decent chances early on: they were awarded a penalty in the 19th minute, when right-winger Mourgos was brought down in the box, after being put through by an incisive Yacine Fortune pass. Zelalem’s penalty was too close to PSV keeper, Mike van de Meulenhof, who made a decent save, diving low to his left.
A minute later Mourgos skillfully rounded the Dutch keeper and set up a sitter for Yacine Fortune, who blasted the opportunity over.
The breakthrough came in the 25th minute, when Ben Sheaf ramseyed a scorcher into the top right corner from thirty yards out to become joint top goalscorer for the tournament, and give Arsenal a deserved lead. The Arsenal back line – along with goalkeeper Ryan Huddart – managed to deal with everything Eindhoven threw at them in the first half, and the Gunners looked to be in full command of the game.
However, Eindhoven came back strongly in the second half, pressing Arsenal in the midfield, and playing a higher back line. They sent a number of great balls over the top, which were barely dealt with; the game was delicately poised, each loose ball chased down, each tackle served with gusto. The pressure caused some sloppiness in Arsenal’s generally tight ball control – clearances were loose, and Eindhoven threatened.
It was two PSV substitutes who eventually combined in the 65th minute to put the Dutch back into the game – a superb ball down the right was driven to the line, brilliantly crossed into the Arsenal box, and ably dispatched by Dante to put the score level.
Arsenal reacted positively to the setback, and started to string together some decent movements, however their final ball was lacking. The game looked to be heading to the lottery that is penalties, when in the final minute, a fine piece of individual play by the industrious Fortune gave Arsenal the winner they needed.
The Gunners saw out the scrappy 4 minutes of extra time to seal the victory and clinch the trophy.
Ben Sheaf shared the Golden Boot and won Player Of The Tournament; he is definitely a player for the future (in the Ramsey mould).
Steve Gatting’s young squad had a fantastic tournament; they were classy ambassadors for Arsenal, and won plenty of new admirers by playing the same stylish brand of football for which the club is known.
(Courtesy of soccerway)
Osei Tutu • O’Connor • Pleguezuelo • M. Bola
Zelalem • Sheaf
Eyoma- • Hinds • Mourgos
Subs: Keto, T. Bola, Chatzitheodoridis, Pileas, Donovan.
(Yours truly on left with new-found Gooner buddies!)
Paul Hepker (aka invinciblog/batmandela) recently returned to South Africa after a 16-year stint in Hollywood, where he plied his trade as a film and TV composer. He adopted Arsenal in the mid-80′s, and if it doesn’t start behaving soon he’s going to send it to boarding school.
As an ardent Gunner propagandist – he has contributed a number of tongue-in-cheeky images to the Goonerverse – one of which is bound to get him into trouble at some point.