Arsenal 0-1 Porto: Young Gunners edged in Premier League International Cup Final
PUBLISHED: 21:01 08 May 2018 | UPDATED: 21:29 08 May 2018
Arsenal’s academy side fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat to repeat champions Porto in the Premier League International Cup on Tuesday night at the Emirates.
Madi Queta’s goal early in the first-half was enough to make Porto the first ever double winners of the academy competition, as Arsenal’s young talents battled but couldn’t break through the visitor’s defence.
The Gunners were hoping to become the second English side to win the academy tournament, after Manchester City won the inaugural 2014-15 edition, with Villarreal triumphant the following season.
Last season’s fourth edition saw Porto beat Sunderland 5-0 in the final at the north east version version of the Stadium of Light - as the young dragons proved to be the best of the 24 teams in this season’s edition.
With twelve teams from England entered - pitted against a dozen of Europe’s finest academy sides, reaching the final was no mean feat.
The showpiece saw Ben Sheaf’s first game back at the Emirates, having played in a different red and white kit at Stevenage on-loan since January. He lined up alongside Danny Ballard to form a strong centre-back partnership.
The game kicked off under clear blue skies at the Emirates, with each side cancelling each other out in the early stages, as the ball rarely strayed far from the centre circle.
However, the reigning champions rewarded their fans’ passionate support after 10-minutes. Queta found space inside the Gunners’ box and fired in past Joao Virginia for 1-0.
The game had very few chances for the rest of the half, with midfield fouls breaking the game up.
Porto proved themselves good value for their lead, and had the Arsenal back line panicking on several occasions. The young Gunners would have been disappointed with the little threat they posed to Mouhamed Mbaye’s goal.
The game restarted and Porto still looked the more likely to score, as Arsenal increased their intensity in midfield but couldn’t find a killer instinct in the box - despite there being plenty of it the stands, with Thierry Henry watching on.
Although not creating much more than the Gunners, Porto’s control of the midfield was stifling and the highly rated Emile Smith Rowe was almost entirely marked out of the game, as the Portuguese side put a stop to his charging forward runs before they could begin and forced the Gunners out wide.
Inside the final ten minutes, Virginia was forced to make some impressive saves to keep the Gunners in with a shout. The home side pushed forward, but all it did was give more space for the side in blue to create, with two golden chances missed.
Arsenal almost levelled right at the death, Ballard’s headed effort from a corner met by a superb Mbaye save and moments later Vlad Dragomir bared down on goal, and was stopped by what the Emirates crowd deemed a foul. The referee said no.
‘Forza Porto’ rang out around the Emirates, as the 1,662 strong crowd anticipated the final whistle, delayed by the visitor’s time wasting.
The whistle was met by jubilant celebration from Porto, as an Arsenal academy side slumped onto the Emirates turf in dispair for the second time in two weeks, despite two battling performances.