Inter Milan 0-1 Arsenal
Hector Bellerin and the rest of his Arsenal team mates will be confident of success in the NextGen Series after defeating holders Inter Milan 1-0 on a torturous pitch in Italy.
The Gunners’ reward for the hard fought win is a quarter-final tie at home, possibly played at the Emirates, against CSKA Moscow.
When Inter and Arsenal were drawn together it was predicted to be a glamour tie, with both teams known for their slick passing football, and the Italians in formidable form.
But the conditions at the Centro Sportivo Giacinto Faccheti put an end to any hopes of that, with large parts of the pitch almost under water. Indeed, the game only got the go-ahead 30 minutes before kick-off after torrential rain in Milan.
There were few surprises in Terry Burton’s team selection with Arsenal denied the creative duo of Jon Toral and Thomas Eisfeld through injury. Isaac Hayden was preferred ahead of Jordan Wynter in midfield, while Burton could call upon regulars such as Nico Yennaris, Serge Gnabry, Zak Ansah and Chuba Akpom.
Both teams struggled to adapt to the conditions in the opening period of the game, with the pitch more like a quagmire. The home side went closest midway through the first half with Lorenze Tassi failing to take advantage of a decent goalscoring chance. At the other end, Isaac Donkor was lucky not to put into his own net and give the visitors the lead.
Other than a couple of rash challenges, for which Bellerin and Saed Hajrovic found themselves booked, the rest of the opening half was played out without much incident.
The game sparked into life in the 69th minute when captain Yennaris controlled the ball 20 yards out before fizzing an unstoppable effort into the back of the net.
Inter huffed and puffed as tried to find the equaliser, but Arsenal’s defence never looked too troubled.
Wynter came on for Arsenal as they looked to shut up shop and the introduction of Lipman towards the end helped run the clock down even further.
Inter resorted to sending long balls into the box, but the Arsenal rear guard held on for the famous win.
The Gunners have come a long way in a short space of time, having struggled to defeat lesser quality teams in the group stages of the competition. Now, after beating the holders, they are just a couple of steps away from a stunning triumph in Europe.
Team: Iliev; Bellerin-Monteiro-Hajrovic-Angha; Yennaris-Hayden; Gnabry-Olsson-Ansah; Akpom
Subs: Vickers, Ormonde-Ottewill, Mugabo, Jebb, Iwobi, Wynter, Lipman