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Lucas Moura scores as Under-21s win at Arsenal

Arsenal 1-2 Spurs (Premier League 2)

Fri 27 January 2023, 21:08|Tottenham Hotspur

Lucas Moura scored on his return to action to help our Under-21s claim victory in Friday night's Premier League 2 north London derby.

Troubled by a tendon issue for the last few months and without any match action since November, the experienced forward was a lively influence in his 45-minute stint at a freezing Meadow Park and deservedly bagged a goal to cancel out Amario Cozier-Duberry's opener for Arsenal.

We saw a handful of other big chances go begging but Nile John - on for Lucas in a planned change at the break - came up with a goal worthy of winning any game, not least the derby, just beyond the hour mark when he ran onto the ball and blasted it home from the edge of the area.

Romaine Mundle later rattled the post as we saw the game out to claim back-to-back wins at this level, continuing our New Year resurgence after a tough first half of the campaign.

The hosts had their strongest spell at the start of the match, Ben Cottrell and Ethan Nwaneri going close, but we soon got a foothold in the game with Lucas proving to be a real spark in the forward areas, only a last-ditch tackle from behind by defender Zach Awe preventing him from darting through on goal after a great turn in the 19th minute. A minute later, though, the Gunners were ahead when Charles Sagoe Jr's ball across from the left missed everyone in the area and was collected by Cozier-Duberry on the opposite side, who turned back onto his left foot and curled a shot inside the far post.

Arsenal were getting lots of bodies around Lucas in and around their penalty box but he still retained possession in the main and after good work from the Brazilian forward mid-way through the first period, Alfie Devine's cross from the right was met by Yago Santiago who struck the post, then turned the rebound wide as a good opportunity slipped away. We were soon back level, though, as Jamie Donley teed up Matthew Craig to deliver a cross from the right and Lucas was there in the centre with a powerful first-time shot from 10 yards out, making it 1-1 with 26 minutes gone.

Mundle fired over the bar, Lucas was again thwarted from behind by Awe as he burst into the area and Santiago spurned another good opportunity when he ran through on goal after Jamie Donley's excellent pass from the right flank, clipping the ball off-target - all in the closing moments of the first half - but after John missed with a left-footed shot from a tight angle on the right following a good link-up with Craig at the start of the second period, we deservedly forged ahead in the 61st minute. Craig's quick pass in to the feet of Santiago saw the latter set the ball up perfectly on the edge of the box for the onrushing John, who lashed left-footed into the net at the first time of asking after a well-timed run.

Sadly for the substitute, he was forced off again through injury soon afterwards but we continued to control the game, defending resolutely when needed and going close again twice in quick succession through Mundle, his first shot hitting the post after good work from Devine and his second saved by Hubert Graczyk low to his right. Mundle also had our final effort of note late in the game, his shot from the left angle deflecting just wide, and although we had to navigate through seven added minutes, we were worthy winners come the full-time whistle, the result moving us off the foot of the table.

Reaction on SPURSPLAY

'The team played with belief'

Under-21s Coach Wayne Burnett was delighted at the way the night panned out, telling SPURSPLAY after the game: "The team played with belief, played with energy. We didn't start particularly well but once we got into our rhythm I thought we were really good. Lucas scored a very good goal, then we came out in the second half and I felt that we were very much the better team. Lucas has been out for a while, we're delighted that he's been able to play some minutes, he looked very bright, very sharp, but for our young players as well, it gives them an insight into how he applies himself and how he conducts himself. He's a model professional and he's behaved incredibly with us, so it was a pleasure to have him. What was pleasing about Nile John's goal was his timing to run forward. It was a great touch by Yago, we had one or two other chances as well, we've hit the woodwork twice so overall it's really pleasing to win and I'm pleased with the way we've applied ourselves - the energy we showed was very, very good."

Highlights on SPURSPLAY

Arsenal 1-2 Spurs (Premier League 2)

Arsenal: Graczyk, Walters, Sousa (Lewis-Skelly 69), Foran, Awe, Smith (c), Cozier-Duberry, Cottrell (Bandeira 85), Butler-Oyedeji, Nwaneri (Cirjan 60), Sagoe Jr (Taylor-Hart 69). Substitute (not used): Hillson.

Spurs: Keeley, Craig (Sayers 81), Paskotsi, Fagan-Walcott, Lyons-Foster (c), White, Donley, Devine, Lucas (John 46 (Mathurin 72)), Santiago (Lankshear 90+4), Mundle. Substitute (not used): Hayton.

Match data

Goals: Arsenal - Cozier-Duberry 20, Spurs - Lucas 26, John 61.

Yellow cards: Arsenal - Cirjan 68, Awe 88; Spurs - Mundle 9, Lyons-Foster 12, Paskotsi 58, Mathurin 82.

Referee: Scott Tallis.

Venue: Meadow Park, Boreham Wood FC.

Weather: Partly cloudy, light winds, three degrees.