Chuba Akpom scored in the 87th minute to give Arsenal a 2-1 victory over the MLS All-Stars on Thursday night at Avaya Stadium
Chuba Akpom scored in the 87th minute to give Arsenal a 2-1 victory over the MLS All-Stars on Thursday night at Avaya Stadium.
Akpom, a second-half substitute, capitalised on the work of midfielder Chris Willock and Nacho Monreal to score the winning goal.
Willock worked himself into space on the left-hand side of the area and fed the ball to Monreal, who crossed to Akpom. The 20-year-old striker got behind the Chicago Fire defender Brandon Vincent and slotted in from close range. Akpom was later named man of the match.
Earlier, Joel Campbell gave Arsenal a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute with a penalty. Laurent Ciman had fouled Theo Walcott, and Campbell trotted slowly up to the ball before hitting a low drive underneath Philadelphia Unions Andre Blake.
A familiar foe for Arsenal, the former Chelsea star Didier Drogba, now playing for the Montreal Impact, levelled the score in first-half stoppage time. The New York Red Bulls Sacha Kljestan began the move with a ball to Giovani dos Santos on the left of the box. Dos Santos passed to the Ivorian, who took three shots before he scored: Petr Cech stopped the first, Rob Holding blocked the second and Drogba converted the rebound.
It often felt like a home game for Arsenal. The Gunners red-and-white shirts overwhelmed any other clubs representation in the stadium.
Arsenals starting line-up featured familiar names such as Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but Arsne Wenger chose to feature younger players, including Willock and the 18-year-old Polish central defender Krystian Bielik. The All-Stars fielded a starting 11 featuring European veterans Drogba, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa.
The visitors enjoyed the majority of the possession from the start. The All-Stars responded by attempting to strike quickly on counterattacks. In the seventh minute, Real Salt Lakes Kyle Beckerman began one such attack by slotting a pass to Kaka, who sent a long ball to Villa on the left flank. But Kieran Gibbs blocked Villas shot before it could trouble the Arsenal goal.
A minute later, Pirlo orchestrated another counterattack by chipping the ball to Dos Santos but Cech used his right hand to deflect dos Santos 15-yard shot to safety.
Cech made another critical save in the 47th minute by lunging to deflect Sebastian Giovincos 16-yard fusillade that had been heading into the upper-left corner of the net.
Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka made his debut for the Gunners when he entered the match in the 46th minute but it was Akpom who was to have the final say.