John McDermott paid tribute to his Academy players after a fantastic win against Paris St Germain in the NextGen Series on Wednesday night.
PSG completed the group stage of this Under-19 competition with the best record of the 24 teams (13 points in six matches) but the lads gave as good as they got at the Camp des Loges.
The team had the better of the first half and were rewarded when Shaq Coulthirst opened the scoring in the 33rd minute.
PSG turned up the heat in the second half and Alexis Sainrimat levelled just after the hour.
The game went into extra time and then a thrilling penalty shoot-out where Coulthirst, Grant Ward, Laste Dombaxe and Kevin Stewart scored before Lawrence Vigouroux saved PSG’s final spot-kick for a 4-3 triumph.
The team will now wait for their opponents in the quarter-finals – Chelsea, Villa and Sporting Lisbon have also progressed to the last eight.
“I’m really pleased for the players,” said John, our Academy Manager. “Paris St Germain are a highly-athletic, very capable team and to come to Paris and win in front of a big home crowd, I’m very proud of the lads.
“We controlled the first half, went 1-0 up through Shaq Coulthirst, a composed finish and had other opportunities to extend that lead. In the second half, Paris St Germain gave us a really good game and it was the opposite of the FA Youth Cup last Friday, our defending this time was outstanding and we were very tough.
“I thought we had the edge in extra time without really getting another chance and in the end, our penalty taking was confident and ruthless and Lawrence Vigouroux made the key save.
“Lawrence was the hero in the end in the penalty shoot-out and there were some excellent performances, Grand Ward played for a long period with a yellow card and also excelled. The rules allow 16 players to play and they all made an immense contribution.
“It says a lot about the character of the Academy group with what the lads did on Saturday (a 4-0 win against West Brom) after the FA Youth Cup defeat (against Bolton) at White Hart Lane on Friday night, and now this. We said straight away that we had to move on from the FA Youth Cup and Saturday’s win and this win has gone a long way to do that.”