Arsenal join Aston Villa as English teams insured of a place in the next round after dispatching of Bilbao at Underhill. Goals from Jon Toral (2), Isaac Hayden and Zak Ansah saw them through while there was also an excellent performance from goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook.
Arsenal have progressed to the next round of the NextGen Series after winning a pulsating fixture against Athletic Bilbao. Recently Arsenal have struggled for goals in the competition but on this occasion a team containing hot talents Thomas Eisfeld, Zak Ansah and Chuba Akpom managed to score four goals in a 4-2 triumph over Athletic Bilbo to ensure them a place in the next round.
Bilbao fielded the same team that trounced Marseille 5-0 last week but Arsenal showed no fear against their Basque opponents and flew out of the traps with Kristoffer Olsson being denied by Kepa Arrizabalaga in the opening stages. From the corner that followed however Jon Toral got up above his marker to head home and give Arsenal a lead after an electrifying start.
Bilbao were stunned into action and after Reice Charles-Cook made a good save to deny Mikel Santamaria the same danger man was brought down in the box by Isaac Hayden and Ager Aqueche calmly put the resultant penalty away to level proceedings.
The pendulum continually swung one way to the other for the rest of the opening period as Ansah miss an opportunity and was then adjudged to be off side after converting Olsson’s fine through ball. Bilbao also had chances with Charle-Cook in top form to keep the scores level at the break.
Arsenal came out firing in the second half and it paid off when Ansah provided the finish after good play by Toral and Hayden down the left-hand side. It did not take long for Arsenal to stretch their lead once more as their football started to click into place. More good play from Olsson saw a cross come in to the box which Toral headed in for his second and Arsenal’s third.
Arsenal now rampant and any doubt was to put to bed when Hayden made the score 4-1 from close range.
Bilbao made the scoreline more respectable when Yerai Alvarez headed home a second but it was in vein as Arsenal ran out 4-2 victors and progressed through to next stage.
Here are some Tweets from jubilant Arsenal players…
4-2 win! Great performance by the team!Through to the next round now! Thanks for all your support :)— kristoffer olsson (@krisolsson) December 6, 2012
image: © Ronnie Macdonald