Arsenal under-23s 2 Sunderland under-23s 0: Chuba Akpom on target for Gunners in win over Black Cats
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Premier League 2: Arsenal under-23s 2 Sunderland under-23s 0
Arsenal under-23s picked up a 2-0 victory over Sunderland in an entertaining Premier League 2 clash at the Emirates Stadium on Monday evening thanks to goals from Vlad Dragomir and Chuba Akpom.
It was the Gunners who started the better of the two sides and created the first opening on three minutes as Akpom saw his effort well saved by Black Cats keeper James Talbot after a low Dragomir cross.
Sunderland’s first chance came five minutes later as Joel Asoro was played in before he saw his low effort well blocked by Joseph Olowu after Rees Greenwood had played the striker in.
The Gunners thought they had taken the lead on 14 minutes as Mathieu Debuchy met a Jeff Reine-Adelaide corner perfectly to head into the net from the penalty spot only to see his effort ruled out as the Frenchman had fouled Paddy McNair in the process.
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Arsenal were then to be dealt a blow on 20 minutes as Reine-Adelaide was forced to come off due to injury that saw him replaced by Ben Sheaf.
This change seemed to unsettle the Gunners and they nearly found themselves behind as Deyan Iliev spilled a Tommy Beading freekick the ball fell to Owen Gamble who saw his effort blocked on the line by Josh Da Silva.
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It was the home side who should have taken the lead on 33 minutes as Francis Coquelin linked up well with Eddie Nketiah before the captain crossed for Akpom, but he couldn’t get a connection on the ball that would have surely seen him score.
In a flurry of Arsenal attacks the Gunners were inches away from finally taken the lead as Nketiah weaved his way around the Sunderland defence before his low strike was saved comfortably by Talbot.
On the stroke of the break it was the visitors who could have taken the lead as Greenwood crossed low for Maja, but he was denied a clear shot on goal as Coquelin made a fine tackle on the striker who is returning from a lengthy injury.
The Gunners started the second half on top and went ahead on 49 minutes as Akpom played in a defence splitting pass to Dragomir before he fired a left foot strike into the top corner of the net leaving Talbot with no chance.
As Arsenal started to take control of the game they could have doubled their lead on 65 minutes as Da Silva fired a low effort just wide of goal from 25 yards out after a Dragomir pullback.
The game should have been sealed for the home side on 71 minutes as Zech Medley saw his low effort from point blank range well blocked by the outstretched boot of New Zealand international Elliot Embleton.
From the resulting corner Medley met Da Silva’s delivery he flicked his header across goal to Akpom but he headed his effort over the crossbar when he really should have scored.
In a frantic end to end game Sunderland were inches away from equalising as Luke Molyneux was played in before he saw his low effort superbly saved down low by the reactions of Iliev the keeper springing catlike to his left.
Tolaji Bola created the next opportunity for Arsenal with 15 minutes to go as he linked up well with Nketiah before he saw his low curling effort clawed out by Talbot.
Elliot Dickman’s side could have levelled the affair on 80 minutes as Asoro skipped away from the challenges before playing in Molyneux but his weak effort from close range was parried away from danger by Iliev.
Arsenal sealed the victory however a minute later as Akpom was played through on goal and he dispatched his effort with ease low into the bottom corner of the net past the despairing dive of Talbot.
Jack Diamond was then on hand to come to Sunderland’s rescue as he made a fine last-ditch clearance as he cut out a low Nkeitah cross from the right as Akpom was waiting to pounce at the back post.
Asoro could have pulled a late goal back for the Black Cats as he met a fine Molyneux pass but his powerful effort was well saved by the fine reactions of Iliev.
Arsenal: Iliev, Osei-Tutu, Reine-Adelaide, Debuchy, Olowu, Da Silva, Dragomir, Coquelin, Akpom, McGuane, Nketiah.
Sunderland: Talbot, McNair, Maja, Asoro, Beadling, Greenwood, Gamble, Diamond, Embleton, Hume, Taylor.