Chelsea's youth side overcame a resilient Barcelona on Wednesday night to claim a hard-fought 2-0 win over their Spanish counterparts.
In doing so, the Blues became the third English youth side to progress to the quarter-finals of the NextGen competition this week, after Tottenham and Aston Villa booked their places following wins over Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax.
Barcelona’s famed youth academy, La Masia, has produced some of the world football’s leading players, including the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.
And many pundits have tipped their next crop of young talent to continue the tradition of Barcelona’s style and success, with good reason too. But, like the senior side did at the Nou Camp last season in the Champions League, the ten-men of Chelsea outfought Barcelona and came out on top.
Midway through the first period, Somalia-born striker Islam Feruz put Chelsea in front, cooly finishing after collecting a pass from defender Todd Kane, returning to the side after being on loan in the Championship with Blackburn.
Shortly after the restart, defensive midfielder Connor Hunte was shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Barcelona defender Elohor Godswill.
But the Blues never gave up - a trait akin to their senior squad. Despite having an array of attacking talent, the Catalan side were unable to find the key to unlock the resilient Chelsea defence.
Jeremie Boga, the youngest player on the pitch, proved a tireless worker for the Blues as he continuously tracked back to help out in defence and was influential in Chelsea’s attacking play.
Just before the final whistle, Boga popped up to score Chelsea’s second goal of the night having stood firm to an onslaught of Barcelona attacks, as the Catalan giants went in search of the all-important equaliser.
Having turned a couple of Barcelona defenders, Boga composed himself before slotting the ball past the helpless Joseph Ondoa in the Barca goal to seal the win for the Stamford Bridge outfit.
Chelsea were deserved winners and while this Barcelona side will surely win many plaudits in the future, many of the Blues' youngsters will be plying their trade alongside Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar in a few years time.
As the NextGen Series says, 'Step into the future of football', and the Chelsea youngsters gave us a glimpse of what's to come.
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