Chelsea Under-21s secured a place in the Premier League 2 playoff semi-finals after a Diego Moreira hat-trick helped the Blues claim a dramatic 3-2 victory over Arsenal.

Mark Robinson's side had fallen behind at Meadow Park when Myles Lewis-Skelly broke the deadlock in the 13th minute, but Diego Moreira pulled the Blues level just before the interval.

Chelsea were far more commanding after the break as Robinson's side put everything into securing a place in the last four, yet Arsenal reclaimed their lead when Nathan Butler-Oydejei's strike found the far corner.

The Blues stayed patient and levelled with ten minutes to play as Moreira reacted quickly to finish after Tyrique George saw an effort save. And just as extra time appeared inevitable, the Portugal Under-21 whipped a 20-yard winner into the top corner to seal victory.

An early setback

Four changes were made to the side that overcame Brighton and Hove Albion in the last 16. goalkeeper Teddy Sharman-Lowe returned, Brodi Hughes came into defence, Zain Silcott-Duberry was in from the start, and Reiss Denny stepped into the midfield.

Both teams attempted to take control of the contest in the early stages, but it was Arsenal who had the first sight of goal. Ethan Nwaneri weaved his way into the penalty area and drilled a shot low. Fortunately for the Blues, it struck the post.

Robinson's side then fashioned a chance as Dylan Williams floated a free-kick into the back post for Kaiden Wilson, who made a good connection with the ball yet couldn't keep his effort down.

From Arsenal's next attack, Sharman-Lowe was called into action to deny Nwaneri. The 17-year-old found himself open following a counter and hammered the ball toward the bottom corner. Sharman-Lowe did well to save.

The opener followed – and it went the way of the hosts. Myles Lewis-Skelly had enough time to pick his spot from the edge of the box and the ball ended in the Chelsea net.

Fighting back

The Blues reacted well to the setback and Moreira fired his first effort of the afternoon at goal after good work from Denny. The Arsenal defenders did well to block, however.

We almost found the net when Dujuan Richards manoeuvred his way into the penalty box and rolled the ball across goal, but it drifted just wide of the post.

The Blues ended the half well and after Deivid Washington had a shot saved by Ovie Ejeheri, we levelled the contest. Richards was involved once more as he produced an effort that was denied, yet the rebound fell to Moreira who fired home.

Robinson's side improved after the interval and controlled the contest far better. Richards continued to cause a threat and saw a shot saved well and another ruffle the side netting. Moreira also forced Ejeheri into action.

The Blues were then hit with a sucker punch as slack defending was punished by Butler-Oyedeji, who rolled the ball beyond Sharman-Lowe.

Work to do

Robinson turned to his bench as the second period progressed, with Richard Olise, Ishe Samuels-Smith, Ollie Harrison, Tyrique George and Jimmy-Jay Morgan introduced. The changes helped the Blues maintain pressure.

Richards came close once more but saw Ejeheri save his close-range header. Yet our second equaliser of the afternoon arrived with ten minutes remaining as Moreira reacted quickest to turn home after a shot from George was deflected.

George went close himself minutes later as he received possession 25 yards from goal, turned onto his right foot and unleashed a trademark drive from distance. The ball beat Ejeheri but struck the crossbar.

Extra time loomed as the game entered stoppage time. Thankfully for the young Blues, there would be no additional 30 minutes needed on this occasion as Moreira completed his hat-trick in the dying seconds.

The Portugal Under-21 international received a pass just outside the box and whipped a left-footed effort past Arsenal's defenders, beyond Ejeheri, and into the top corner. It was a fitting way to seal our progress.

What it means

The season continues for our Under-21s, who will travel to either Tottenham Hotspur or Liverpool in the semi-finals of the playoffs. Fixture information will be communicated in due course.

The teams

Arsenal: Ovie Ejeheri, James Sweet (Ismail Oulad M’Hand 90+1’), Joshua Nicholas, Zane Monlouis (Joshua Robinson 90+1’), Ayden Heaven, Myles Lewis-Skelly (Jimi Gower 78’), Amario Cozier-Duberry, Jack Henry-Francis (c), Nathan Butler-Oyedeji, Ethan Nwaneri, Ismeal Kabia
Unused subs: Khari Ranson, Osman Kamara
Goals: Lewis-Skelly 13’, Butler-Oyedeji 54’
Booking: Lewis-Skelly 71, Jimi Gower 86, Ayden Heaven 90+3

Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Teddy Sherman-Lowe; Brodi Hughes (Richard Olise 78), Kaiden Wilson, Zac Sturge (c); Zain Silcott-Duberry (Tyrique George 67), Kiano Dyer, Reiss Denny (Ollie Harrison 76), Dylan Williams (Ishe Samuels-Smith 76); Dujuan Richards, Diego Moreira; Deivid Washington (Jimmy-Jay Morgan 67)
Goals: Diego Moreira 45+3 ,79, 90+6
Bookings: Kaiden Wilson 61’, Diego Moreira 69’, Jimmy-Jay Morgan 89’