Chelsea booked a place in the semi-finals of the Youth Cup and a two-legged date with Arsenal after an eventful victory at St James’ Park.
Dominic Solanke opened the scoring midway into the first half for his 20th goal of an excellent season, before the hosts turned the game around with goals from Olivier Kemen and Adam Armstong, the first scored in controversial circumstances.
However, the young Blues regrouped at the break and were level after 52 minutes through Alex Kiwomya, before Jeremie Boga (pictured top) netted a sensational winner from 30 yards with 25 minutes remaining. Chelsea had to defend strongly throughout the remaining period, with Mitchell Beeney making a couple of important stops, to claim their spot in the competition’s last four for the fifth consecutive campaign.
Manager Adi Viveash made two changes from the side that started in the fifth round, a 2-0 away win at Cardiff City, as Isak Ssewankambo came into the defence and Izzy Brown returned after an injury layoff. Ssewankambo was joined in the back four by cup ever-present Dion Conroy, Andreas Christensen and Ola Aina, protecting Mitchell Beeney in goal.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek captained the side from midfield, alongside Charlie Colkett and Jeremie Boga, while Alex Kiwomya joined Brown to support striker Dominic Solanke from out wide.
The opening exchanges were even on a clear and chilly night on Tyneside as both sides felt their way gradually into the contest. Kiwomya had an opportunity to stretch his legs and run at the Newcastle defence after a few minutes following a clever flick from Colkett, but his cross was cut out by Lubomir Satka, before Beeney had to be quick off his line to thwart the advancing Adam Armstrong, the hosts’ top Youth Cup goalscorer this campaign with five in three games.
Boga’s marauding run forward beat a trio of defenders in black and white but his pass just didn’t quite tee up Brown, before Liam Smith had the young Magpies’ first effort of the tie with a driven shot that went a foot wide of Beeney’s far post.
Brown was denied by Freddie Woodman in the Newcastle goal after 15 minutes after an exquisite ball through by Colkett before the Blues found the opening goal midway through the half. Brown won possession inside his own half and initiated a quick break, feeding Solanke in behind with a super pass, and the schoolboy striker finished confidently beyond Woodman for his sixth Youth Cup goal of the season.
That lead was almost doubled soon after as a corner from the right caused havoc in the Newcastle penalty area and Loftus-Cheek’s effort came off the post and down onto the line before being cleared from danger.
However, Chelsea’s slender lead didn’t last long as the hosts levelled in controversial circumstances six minutes after Solanke’s opener. Rolando Aarons won a free kick and Greg Olley delivered dangerously into the six-yard box, where Olivier Kemen bundled the ball home. Replays clearly showed the midfielder had diverted the ball in with his hand and the Blues were left understandably frustrated that the infringement wasn’t spotted by any of the officials.
Olley tested Beeney as Newcastle grew in confidence and, after a period in the ascendancy, they added a second goal to take the lead. A mistake in passing at the back from Loftus-Cheek was punished clinically by striker Armstrong as he finished low beyond Beeney to draw level with Solanke in the personal goalscoring stakes of this year’s competition.
Right-back Jamie Sterry forced Beeney to push over the bar in the final few minutes of the half as the hosts went into the interval with a narrow advantage.
Newcastle started the second period on the front foot and Olley’s whipped free kick from the left flashed across the face of goal, though it took just seven minutes before Chelsea, last year’s Cup finalists, were level. Solanke supplied excellently for Kiwomya and the wideman finished off the move expertly for his second goal in two Youth Cup games.
That reinvigorated the visitors, though they were forced to match the physicality of their hosts, particularly in midfield. Kemen was booked for raising his hand to Colkett’s face right in front of the dugouts before the young Blues turned the tie back on its head with a fifth goal of the game.
Boga beat a couple of defenders with a slaloming run forward and drilled a sensational effort from 30 yards past the despairing dive of Woodman.
Kiwomya was at the centre of two bright attacking moves as Chelsea looked to find a killer fourth goal. Both times he found space down the right channel and was supplied with inviting balls forward, though his first end-product was inches over the head of Solanke and his second flashed just wide.
The hosts remained a threat and Conroy twice had to cover intelligently at the front post to clear the danger from wide, before Colkett had a sight at goal but shot wide on his weaker right foot. Solanke headed over at the near post after Boga’s corner from the right before Beeney made a double save from substitute Jonathyn Quinn and then Kemen to keep his side ahead.
Viveash introduced Jordan Houghton to provide some further defensive solidity in the final few minutes and both Boga and Reece Mitchell had chances well blocked, while Boga shot over in stoppage time. Yet that wasn’t to hamper the Blues and they progressed to the semi-finals and a two-legged tie with Arsenal, the first leg to be played at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea Mitchell Beeney; Isak Ssewankambo, Dion Conroy, Andreas Christensen, Ola Aina; Charlie Colkett (Jordan Houghton 85), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (c), Jeremie Boga; Alex Kiwomya, Izzy Brown (Reece Mitchell 75), Dominic Solanke
Unused subs Bradley Collins, Jay Dasilva, Charly Musonda
Scorers Solanke 22, Kiwomya 52, Boga 63
Newcastle Freddie Woodman, Jamie Sterry, Liam Gibson (Ben Drennan 59), Greg Olley (Tom Heardman 86), Ryan McKinnon, Lubomir Satka, Olivier Kemen, Liam Smith (Jonathyn Quinn 70), Alex Gilliead (c), Rolando Aarons, Adam Armstrong
Unused subs Brendan Pearson, Callum Roberts
Scorers Kemen 28, Armstrong 37
Booked Sterry, Kemen, Gilliead
By Sam Poplett