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Clinical Arsenal overcome Shakhtar

Arsenal FC 3-1 FC Shakhtar Donetsk
Jon Toral, Kristoffer Olsson and Serge Gnabry scored to earn a meeting with FC Barcelona.

Arsenal's Chuba Akpom runs at the Shakhtar defence
Arsenal's Chuba Akpom runs at the Shakhtar defence ©Arsenal FC

Arsenal FC will visit FC Barcelona in the UEFA Youth League quarter-finals after scoring twice in the last 19 minutes to defeat FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

Andriy Boryachuk's volley in the closing stages of the first half cancelled out Jon Toral's opener for the hosts. A penalty from Kristoffer Olsson restored the Gunners' advantage, with skipper Serge Gnabry – scorer of one goal in eight Premier League appearances this season – making the outcome safe.

Aware of the form Shakhtar showed in knocking Manchester United FC out in the group stage, Arsenal manager Steve Gatting recalled Chuba Akpom from a loan at Coventry City FC, while Gnabry dropped down from the first team. Ainsley Maitland-Niles had smacked the bar with a left-foot shot and put another attempt wide from Akpom's cutback before Toral gave Arsenal a deserved lead, poking an effort between two defenders on the goal line after Shakhtar had failed to clear a Gnabry corner. 

As the half wore on, the Ukrainian side started to get a foothold, equalising in the 44th minute when Olexandr Zinchenko's free-kick fell to Boryachuk, who powerfully beat Deyan Iliev.

Iliev was twice extended before the hour mark, denying Viktor Kovalenko and pushing behind Eduard Sobol's dipping set piece. It was Iliev's opposite number Bogdan Sarnavskiy who was partly responsible for Gatting's team forging ahead once more, bringing down Akpom following an inviting pass from Toral. Substitute Olsson did the rest from the spot.

Gnabry ended Shakhtar's challenge two minutes later. A slick move culiminated in Sarnavskiy making a double stop from Akpom and Maitland-Niles, but the German Under-19 international was in the right place to turn in the rebound. There was some late Shakhtar pressure after Glen Kamara's 82nd-minute red card for a second bookable offence, but Arsenal showed composure to hold on.

Gatting said: "[I am] delighted with the win and delighted with the performance we put in. We knew they were a good passing side and decided before the game to try and pressurise them, which I thought we did well. The team responded well in the second half, we started positively, got the goal, dug in, pressurised them and got the third one."

Of the quarter-finals, he added: "It's what it's all about, going to Barcelona to play them. It will be a great experience for the team."