UNDER-19S PLEASED WITH SPAIN TRIP FOLLOWING DUTCH DRAW
Coach Dermot Drummy has given his reaction to Chelsea Under-19s' result away in the Netherlands on Tuesday evening, and subsequent pairing with Barcelona in the knockout stages of the NextGen Series.
His players will travel to take on the Spanish club's Under-19 side in a single-match tie, scheduled for February in their Mini Estadi
The draw for the next round was made immediately after the final game in the group stage of the Champions League-style competition for this age group, a 3-3 draw for Chelsea away to Ajax.
Before kick-off the young Blues side were all but guaranteed a place in the knockout rounds. Only an extraordinarily heavy defeat would have prevented progress to the last 16. The draw sees the side qualify as one of the best third-placed sides, finishing one point behind Ajax and two behind CSKA Moscow who had 12 points.
In a match played in difficult conditions in the Netherlands, Chelsea went into a 3-1 lead shortly after half-time but eventually let the win slip away with a minute left on the clock.
Although Mitchell Beeney made the first save of the game from a free-kick, Chelsea went into the lead thanks to Alex Kiwomya with only 12 minutes played, the striker finishing from close range after a move down the right, but the Dutch side equalised four minutes later. However Islam Feruz (pictured) was able to restore the lead before half-time, striking in the 39th minute after Ajax had given the ball away to him.
The Scotland Under-21 international then netted four minutes after the restart to make it 3-1, slipping the ball past the keeper having been played through one-on-one by Jeremie Boga. However Ajax kept the game alive by scoring from the spot just past the hour, centre-back Alex Davey booked for giving away the penalty.
When these two teams met in England back in December it was a draw, and an 89th-minute Dutch equaliser ensured that was again the case, although before the final whistle substitute Reece Mitchell was facing an open goal when he was brought down but the referee didn't award a penalty.
'I was really pleased with the trip, the performance and the result,' reports Drummy.
'There were all sorts of experiences for the players, coming abroad and playing against a very good side who at times had better possession than us, but everybody worked for the team and Alex Kiwomya and Islam Feruz each scored with outstanding efforts. There were also a number of chances with the Ajax keeper making some good saves.
'There was a gale blowing but we tried to play out even though the wind was in our faces and Ajax pressed us in. We played through them and we may have changed a few people's perceptions of how English football is played. We played through the lines with movement and we were switched on.
'To play Ajax and now to play Barcelona with the history those two clubs have is a great experience for everybody.
'We have some Under-16s playing in this Under-19 tournament and we are a very young side but we show a lot of maturity and professionalism. When they travel, in airports and hotels they are a credit to the Academy and the club and we have played some fantastic football. I think we have made a lot of new friends abroad.'
Chelsea Mitchell Beeney; Tika Musonda (Dion Conroy), Alex Davey, Andreas Christensen, Adam Nditi; Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Reece Mitchell), Jeremie Boga, Lewis Baker (c); Alex Kiwomya, Islam Feruz, Connor Hunte (Charlie Colkett).
The full last 16 draw is:
Barcelona v Chelsea
Paris St-Germain v Tottenham Hotspur
CSKA Moscow v PSV Eindhoven
Sporting Lisbon v Liverpool
Internazionale v Arsenal
Olympiacos v Anderlecht
Ajax v Aston Villa
Juventus v Rosenborg