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UEFA Youth League: Arsenal U19s 1-0 Borussia Dortmund U19s

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Arsenal won! The U19s, that is. But Arsenal won!

Ian Walton/Getty Images

1-0 49' Mavididi

Arsenal U19s got back on a winning track today with a strong performance against Borussia Dortmund U19s.

Arsenal were boosted by the inclusion of CB Julio Pleguezuelo, who made his first UEFA Youth League appearance of the year due to injury. Stefan O'Connor paired with the young Spaniard. Hugo Keto also got his debut as regular U19 goalkeeper Ryan Huddart was called up for senior action due to the injuries to Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Gedion Zelalem continued to support a fluid front four of captain Alex Iwobi, Daniel Crowley, Chris Willock, and Stephy Mavididi.

Arsenal controlled proceedings for the most part in the first half. Crowley featured early, as has been a feature of much of the UEFA Youth League campaign. In the twelfth minute, he cut inside from the left and put a stinging shot on target which the keeper had to parry away for a corner. Two minutes later, after Willock was fouled on the edge of the box, Crowley's free kick just missed wide.

Dortmund rarely threatened in the first, but most of their chances involved utilizing the physicality and height of centerback Emmanuel Moise Mbende, who dominated the comparably frail Arsenal defenders. Fortunately for the Gunners, none of his efforts on goal troubled the Arsenal goal.

The young Gunners' best chance of the half came in the thirty-eighth minute when Maitland-Niles dribbled his way past four Dortmund defenders and earned a penalty. It looked like there may have been minimal contact from Mbende, but nonetheless, the Gunners were handled a golden opportunity to take the lead. Unfortunately, Crowley blazed his effort from the spot over the bar.

Hopeful USMNTer Junior Flores had arguably Dortmund's best chance of the first half. Tafari Moore was dispossessed deep in his own half, but Flores could only hit the side netting from a tight angle.

After halftime, Arsenal quickly got themselves on top with a clinical Mavididi volley. Zelalem played an excellent ball out wide to Iwobi who then jinked his way past defenders to create enough space to put in a teasing cross which Mavididi gladly pounced upon.

Mavididi could have quickly doubled his tally as Zelalem played him through with a delicious through ball, but the young striker was unable to round the keeper's outstretched paw.

Mavididi had the ball in the back of the net again in the fifty-sixth minute, on a play extremely similar to his initial goal, but he was just offsides when Crowley fired in his cross.

There was a lull in the play for the next twenty or so minutes in the match, but as Dortmund began to push for the two goals they required to stay alive, Arsenal began to impose their will on the match.  Mavididi had multiple opportunities to score late which were saved by Dortmund's impressive keeper. Tyrell Robinson, who replaced Chris Willock with twenty minutes remaining, looked lively down the left flank. He led a counter late in which he blazed by the Dortmund defense, cutting back to a wide open Mavididi who scuffed his quickly taken shot wide right back to an offsides Robinson.

Arsenal did survive a late scare as Mbende had put a shot past Keto only to have the goal disallowed for offsides in the buildup.

Overall, a strong defensive performance for the young Gunners who have struggled in that area of late. O'Connor and Pleguezuelo were excellent. Keto had little to do, but looked an impressive figure and did good work distributing from the back. Crowley looked bright early and Zelalem pulled the strings in the second half creating a couple of really good chances with his trademark through balls.

Due to Anderlecht U19s 2-0 win over Galatasaray, Arsenal U19s are in the driver's seat for qualification when they travel to Turkey on the next Champions League matchday for their final group stage showdown.