Reigning FA Youth Cup champions Chelsea moved a step closer to retaining their crown after an impressive Final first-leg victory away at Manchester City.
England Under-18s forward Tammy Abraham scored either side of an Isaac Buckley-Ricketts' equaliser and Dominic Solanke dealt what could be a crucial late blow to put the visitors in the driving seat ahead of next Monday’s return leg at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester City 1-3 Chelsea
FA Youth Cup
Final first leg
Monday 20 April 2015
Despite their advantage, Chelsea will be only too aware of how quickly these two-legged ties can turn, having overcome a two-goal deficit at the semi-final stage to overcome Tottenham Hotspur.
The UEFA Youth League champions’ record in this competition speaks for itself, however. Appearing in a fifth final in six years, Joe Edwards’ Blues are hoping to lift the trophy for a fourth time since 2010.
It was a frenetic opening to proceedings. Chelsea have been in imperious form this season and it took them only seven minutes to break the deadlock. Skipper Charlie Colkett found Abraham on the edge of the City box and the young forward fired high into the net to put his side in front.
That lead lasted 90 seconds. Brandon Barker has caught many an eye with his performances this season and it was his through-ball that cut open the Chelsea defence, leaving Buckley-Ricketts to slot home an equaliser.
The hosts could have been in front moments later as Aaron Nemane bustled forward and teed up Buckley-Ricketts, who forced an outstanding save out of Bradley Collins.
Despite that pressure the visitors scored next. With the tie having seemingly settled down, Abraham popped up to score his second of the game and his 36th in all competitions this campaign.
Highlights of The FA Youth Cup Final first leg at the Academy Stadium
Izzy Brown’s headed effort was palmed away by Christian Haug, but Abraham was on hand to acrobatically restore the London club’s lead.
The finalists traded blows, with Barker forcing a comfortable save out of Collins, and Charly Musonda shotover soon after the teams had returned from the break.
A clever interchange between Manuel Garcia and Bersant Celina was smothered by Collins as City pressed for an equaliser, while Jay Dasilva’s probing cross probably should have come to more for Chelsea.
Substitute Kasey Palmer replaced the injured Abraham on the hour but his ambitious effort continued rising, before City trio Garcia, Nemane and Kean Bryan all spurned chances when well-placed.
Defender Pablo Maffeo had a penalty appeal turned down and an effort cleared off the line within a matter of moments, but it was Solanke who would have the final say with a cool finish in the dying moments.
All sights are on Stamford Bridge for next Monday’s return leg which promises to provide a fantastic finale to this season’s competition.
Manchester City (4-4-1-1): 1 Christian Haug; 2 Pablo Maffeo, 3 Cameron Humphreys-Grant, 4 Tosin Adarabioyo (captain), 5 Angelino; 7 Aaron Nemane, 6 Kean Bryan, 8 Manuel Garcia, 11 Brandon Barker; 10 Bersant Celina; 9 Isaac Buckley-Ricketts.
Substitutes: 16 Javairo Dilrosun for Garcia 86.
Substitutes not used: 12 Sam Tattum, 13 Charlie Albinson, 14 Sadoo Diallo, 15 Paolo Fernandes.
Goals: Buckley-Ricketts 9.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): 1 Bradley Collins; 2 Ola Aina, 3 Fikayo Tomori, 4 Jake Clarke Salter, 5 Jay Dasilva; 6 Ruben Sammut, 8 Charlie Colkett (captain); 11 Isaiah Brown, 10 Charly Musonda, 7 Tammy Abraham; 9 Dominic Solanke.
Substitutes: 14 Kasey Palmer for Abraham 67, 12 Kyle Scott for Musonda 90, 16 Jeremie Boga for Brown 90.
Substitutes not used: 13 Jared Thompson, 15 Joshua Grant.
Goals: Abraham 7, 20, Solanke 90.
Referee: Robert Madley.