Tuesday 23 April 2013

Barclays U21s: Spurs close in on Elite Group crown

Tottenham overcome Gunners while Everton make it through to the knockout stages

Nabil Bentaleb scores the winner for Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby

Arsenal 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Over 2,000 fans watched Tottenham tighten their grip on the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Elite Group with victory over their local rivals at Barnet's Underhill Stadium.

Nabil Bentaleb scored the decisive goal only 12 seconds into the second half to stretch Tottenham's lead over second-placed Manchester United to eight points.

Spurs created a host of chances in the opening period but they had to wait until just after half-time to break the deadlock, Bentaleb pouncing on a loose ball following Kenny McEvoy's cross. Arsenal piled on the pressure in the closing stages but they could not grab an equaliser.

If Tottenham win their final match or if Manchester United fail to pick up maximum points from their final three matches, Spurs will win the Elite Group. The defeat ended Arsenal's slim hopes of making the top three and qualify for the play-offs.

Arsenal report | Tottenham Hotspur report

Everton 0-0 Sunderland

Everton made sure of top spot in Group One and therefore a place in the knockout stages with a goalless draw at Southport.

Apostolos Vellios, Chris Long and Tyias Browning all had chances but could not break the deadlock as Sunderland struggled to create clear-cut opportunities.

Tony Hibbert continued his rehabilitation from calf surgery as he made his third consecutive appearance for Everton's Under-21s. Everton are four points clear of Aston Villa who have only one match left and will play the winner of Group 2 for a place in the semi-finals.

"The lads take a lot of credit," Everton Under-21 manager Alan Stubbs told the club's website.

Everton report | Sunderland report

Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough completed their campaign with victory over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park thanks to Bradley Fewster's winner.

Fewster took advantage of a mistake from goalkeeper Christopher Dilo, who mis-controlled a back pass, to slot the ball into the empty net.

Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jayason Leutwiler produced two saves near the end to keep his side ahead while Blackburn’s Hugo Fernandez was dismissed in the closing stages.

Blackburn Rovers report | Middlesbrough report

Reading 1-2 Bolton Wanderers

Reading's attempt to top Group 2 received a significant blow as they suffered defeat in their final match of Phase 2 at the Madejski Stadium.

Adam Blakeman opened the scoring for Bolton with a 25-yard shot while Tom Youngs doubled the advantage after the break with a well-worked goal from the edge of the area.

Dominic Samuel pulled a goal back and Bolton substitute James Kelly was sent off but Reading could not find the equaliser.

Reading top the group on 20 points but Newcastle United are only one point behind, having played two matches fewer, while Bolton and Norwich City are also in the hunt to claim a place in the knock-out stages.

Reading report | Bolton Wanderers report

Stoke City 1-2 Manchester City

Denis Suarez scored both goals as Manchester City claimed victory in their penultimate match of the second phase at Nantwich Town.

The 19-year-old scored on 27 and 60 minutes to give City a lead they never relinquished after George Rigg put Stoke ahead with a strike from 20 yards.

The match featured Stoke's Brek Shea and Manchester City's Jack Rodwell, who have both been out of first-team action with injuries.

Stoke remain bottom of the group with one match left to play while City are in fifth with 13 points from 11 matches.

Stoke City report | Manchester City report

Barclays U21 Premier League results

Monday 22 April
Elite Group
Arsenal 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur (Bentaleb)

Group 1
Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Middlesbrough (Fewster)
Everton 0-0 Sunderland

Group 2
Reading (Samuel) 1-2 Bolton Wanderers (Blakeman, Youngs)
Stoke City Rigg) 1-2 Manchester City (Suarez 2)

Download full fixture list here  | For full results click here

To view the league tables after the qualificaton stage, click here

You can follow developments on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

Key Points

  • Tottenham close in on Elite Group title after victory over Arsenal
  • Everton book place in play-offs after finishing top of Group 1
  • Bolton Wanderers defeat Group 2 leaders Reading

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