FC Barcelona earned a place in the UEFA Youth League semi-finals, where they will play FC Schalke 04, with a 4-2 victory over an Arsenal FC side reduced to ten for the last half-hour.
The outcome was in doubt until Wilfrid Kaptoum and Adama Traoré, with his second of the game, scored during the closing three minutes of a see-saw contest in which both captains failed to convert penalties and the Londoners had goalkeeper Deyan Iliev dismissed and twice came from behind.
The visitors included in Steve Gatting's starting XI Gedion Zelalem, who earlier today signed his first professional contract. They pressed energetically to cut off the Barça supply lines through midfield and their domination was poised to be transferred to the scoreboard when, in the 19th minute, a nimble turn by Chuba Akpom earned a penalty – only for Kristoffer Olsson to hit it against a post.
Against the run of play, it was the home team that found the net first. Munir El Haddadi sprinted deep into the Gunners' box to pressurise Stefan O'Connor and the central defender's clearance cannoned off the forward's legs past a startled Iliev.
The advantage encouraged Barcelona to attack with the courage of the club's convictions, but just when the Gunners' voices seemed muted, they found a reply. Former Barça midfielder Jon Toral sent a perfectly weighted pass to Serge Gnabry, who restored parity three minutes before the interval.
Five minutes into the second half, the Azulgrana struck again, Enguene providing the through ball for Traoré to beat Iliev. Just before the hour, the keeper was in the limelight again, bringing down El Haddadi to elicit a red card and a penalty for Jordi Vinyals' side which Elohor Godswill fired high and wide.
Surging forward despite their numerical disadvantage, Arsenal levelled again when Akpom turned in a cross from Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill. With a penalty shoot-out looming, Barcelona scored twice through Kaptoum and Traoré to secure a victory that was less comfortable than the scoreline might suggest.
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