Arsenal got off to a very good start, pushing United back and the few times United got on the ball they gave it away within seconds, but luckily Arsenal lacked accuracy and didn’t really create anything of note.
It took 7 minutes before Pierluigi Gollini was called into action. Ekangamene brought down an Arsenal player 25 yards out, leading to a well struck Henderson effort that was blocked by the Italian keeper.
United created nothing in the opening 20 minutes and at times seemed more than happy defending their box. Arsenal probed, trying to find openings, but never looked like they would succeed. Needless to say, the first-half was anything but interesting to watch.
After 33 very dull minutes we finally saw a bit of action when Sean McGinty brought down an Arsenal player near the corner-flag leading to a bit of pushing and shoving between McGinty and Hayden. McGinty received a yellow card – probably just as much for telling the linesman what he thought of the decision to give a free-kick.
The resulting free-kick almost turned into a goal for Arsenal, when Watt arrived at the far post but the striker headed wide.
Ekangamene with a cracking goal
Out of nothing, Charni Ekangamene hammered United into the lead on 40 minutes. Larnell Cole who had been largely anonymous ran clear down the right and delievered a cross that bounced once before Ekangamene hit it perfectly with his left foot. The ball flew into the bottom right corner, with Martinez not even moving.
Arsenal with a soft penalty to equalise
Just 2 minutes later Arsenal were awarded a soft penalty. Bellerin made a run into the box and under pressure from 3 players, went to ground. Jesse Lingard had indeed made contact with the player, but it looked like Bellerin ran into the foot of Lingard rather than the other way around. Conor Henderson made no mistake from the spot and hammered the ball into the back of the net. Buttner was booked for protesting.
The second half started with a bit more pace, but chances were once again few and far between.
Lingard was given a yellow card after 60 minutes when he chopped down Coquelin after losing the ball. It was a correct booking, but Coquelin certainly made it look a lot worse than it was.
Eisfeld almost gave Arsenal the lead on 69 minutes after some nice football, but just as he was to pull the trigger, Tom Thorpe dived in and blocked the effort. Just 1 minute later Michele Fornasier performed a similar tackle do deny Sanchez Watt.
Arsenal then should have taken the lead after Eisfeld sent in a low cross which took a slight deflection – and Hayden put the ball wide from 5 yards out. He didn’t have too much time to react, but he should have got that one on target. 3 great chances for Arsenal in the space of 3 minutes. United at this point were really lucky not to be behind.
Arsenal were then given a great chance to grab the winner 10 minutes before the end when McGinty rather needlessly brought down an Arsenal-player on 25 yards. Henderson’s free kick smacked against the crossbar and United were lucky to escape once again.
Bellerin with a late winner
Arsenal finally got the goal they deserved in the 89th minute when a ball was half-cleared. Lingard hesitated, Bellerin didn’t and hammered the ball into the near corner from 12-13 yards out. Lingard unfortunately had an awful game and was involved in both goals conceded.
After the match finished, a furious Ekangamene remonstrated with Bellerin after a horrible tackle a minute earlier, in fairness it was a straight red tackle that the referee either ignored or missed.
Tom Thorpe our best player on the night. He performed brilliantly and took charge when Arsenal pushed for that second goal. Adnan Januzaj was isolated up front and Cole, Lingard and Ryan Tunnicliffe didn’t manage to give him the necessary support.
Arsenal – Manchester U21 2-1 (1-1)
0-1 Charni Ekangamene 40 (Cole)
1-1 Conor Henderson 42 pen
2-1 Hector Bellerin 89
Manchester United: Pierluigi Gollini – Alex Buttner (Fornasier 45), Sean McGinty, Tom Thorpe, Marnick Vermijl – Larnell Cole, Charni Ekangamene, Frederic Veseli, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Jesse Lingard – Adnan Januzaj
Arsenal: Damien Martinez – Hector Bellerin, Ignaci Miquel, Sead Hajrovic, Samir Bihmoutine – Francis Coquelin, Isaac Hayden – Tomas Eisfeld, Nico Yennaris (Eastman 64), Conor Henderson – Sanchez Watt (Ansah 71)