Thursday 16 January 2014
Middlesbrough came from behind to beat Arsenal 3-1 at Rockcliffe Park and move to within two points of their opponents in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League.
The Gunners looked on course for a victory that would have brought them within a point of fifth-placed Liverpool when Benik Afobe scored after just five minutes. But two goals by Kei Kamara and a close-range strike from Faris Haroun completed the turnaround as Boro mustered their fourth victory of the campaign to lift them to 16th in the standings.
Arsenal dominated for long periods of the game, beginning brightly with a fine piece of opportunism by Afobe, who intercepted a loose pass, rounded Boro goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler and rolled the ball into the net.
The visitors continued to threaten in the early stages of the first period, passing up three opportunities to extend their lead, as winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles combined with Daniel Crowley – the 16-year-old making his first competitive start at U21 level – to drag a shot narrowly wide. Maitland-Niles set up Kris Olsson, whose first-time strike rattled the crossbar, and had a shot cleared off the line on 21 minutes.
Boro took full advantage of their reprieve, however, and were level two minutes later when Kamara arrived unmarked in the penalty area to head past Matt Macey. They went into the half-time interval ahead when Kamara, the former Norwich City striker, found the bottom corner of the net with a smart finish.
The home side made it 3-1 just two minutes after the interval when the Gunners half-cleared a corner and the ball fell to Haroun at the back post, who made no mistake. Steve Gatting's charges strove hard to claw their way back into the match, but the closest they came to another goal was when substitute Alex Iwobi struck a post, as Boro held on for a morale-boosting win. Arsenal's second defeat of the season leaves them in 11th, 10 points off the top, with two matches in hand.
Middlesbrough report | Arsenal report
Tonight's Under-21 Premier League Cup tie between Reading and Watford at Camrose Stadium, in Basingstoke, has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Wednesday 15 January
Middlesbrough (Kamara 2, Hanoun) 3-1 Arsenal (Afobe)
Tuesday 14 January
Spurs (Coulibaly, Townsend, McEvoy, Kane) 4-1 Newcastle (Richardson)
Monday 13 January
Leicester 0-4 Bolton (Wilkinson, Youngs 2, Clough)
Sunderland (Lynch) 1-1 Stoke City (Alabi)
Southampton (Rowe) 1-2 Manchester United (Lingard, Cole)
Friday 17 January
Stoke v Spurs, 1pm, Clayton Wood
Thursday 16 January
Reading P-P Watford
To discover all Under-21 Premier League Cup results to date, click here.