The FA Youth Cup Final is finely poised after Manchester City drew with Chelsea in the first leg.
After a stalemate in the first half, Mason Mount fired the visitors ahead shortly after half time but Aaron Nemane equalised with 20 minutes to go and neither side could grab a vital advantage ahead of the second leg.
Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea
The FA Youth Cup Final
7.45pm, Friday 22 April 2016
Manchester City Academy Stadium
Chelsea fashioned their first chance after just six minutes when Trevor Chalobah got to the by-line and cut back for Ike Ugbo to shoot, but his attempt was well saved by Daniel Grimshaw diving down low to his left.
City’s first chance came from a long ball from the back in the 24th minute. Lukas Nmecha latched onto it and found himself one-on-one with Nathan Baxter, but the Chelsea goalkeeper came out on top.
City fashioned the best move of the half two minutes later when, after patiently spreading the play first to the right wing and then back to the left, the tricky Brahim Diaz was eventually able to find space on the edge of the box but his shot flew just over.
Chelsea still posed a threat on the counter attack and finished the half the stronger.
Dujon Sterling played in Ugbo who turned and played a return pass, but Sterling couldn’t keep his shot down and the first half finished scoreless.
FA Youth Cup highlights: Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea
City were slow out of the blocks in the second half too and this time they quickly paid the price.
Sterling had the ball on the right wing and played a neat pass into Chabolah who had advanced from the back. The full-back was quickly onto the ball and crossed low for Mount to smash home unmarked inside the box on 50 minutes.
Chelsea looked comfortable and both Davenport and Diaz were forced to drop deeper to try to get on the ball and influence the game for City.
The hosts had struggled to replicate any of their neat passing moves from the first-half, but made up for it with a lovely equaliser in the 68th minute.
Kongolo, Diaz and Nmecha were all involved in a neat exchange of passes on the edge of the Chelsea box before the ball was played out to Aaron Nemane on the left hand side to control before curling a sublime right-footed effort beyond Baxter and into the far corner.
Chelsea again finished the half the stronger team but Sterling’s dragged effort was the closest they came to restoring their lead.
The sides will meet again on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea will look to retain their 2015 title against a City side clearly full of resolve.
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): 1 Daniel Grimshaw; 2 Charlie Oliver, 4 Tosin Adarabioyo, 5 Joel Latibeaudiere, 3 Cameron Humphreys-Grant; 6 Jacob Davenport, 8 Rodney Kongolo; 11 Brahim Diaz, 10 Manu Garcia, 7 Aaron Nemane; 9 Lukas Nmecha.
Substitutions: 16 Isaac Buckley-Ricketts (for Garcia 59), 12 Marcus Wood (for Latibeaudiere 88), 15 Jadon Sancho (for Nemane 90)
Unused subs: 13 Christian Kjetil Haug, 14 Tomlwa Dele-Bashiru
Goal: Nemane (68)
Coach: Jason Wilcox
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): 1 Nathan Baxter; 2 Trevoh Chalobah, 3 Fikayo Tomori, 4 Jake Clarke-Salter, 5 Jay Dasilva; 6 Ruben Sammut, 8 Mukhtar Ali; 7 Dujon Sterling, 10 Mason Mount; 11 Isaac Christie-Davis; 9 Ike Ugbo.
Substitutions: 14 Kyle Scott (for Ali 61), 15 Jacob Maddox (for Ugbo 70), 12 Joshua Grant (for Chalobah 77)
Goal: Mount (50)
Unused subs: 13 Jared Thompson, 16 Charlie Wakefield
Coach: Joe Edwards