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Dublin: 15 °C Monday 3 August, 2020

Promising Irish underage international starts for Bayern as Arsenal clinch late winner

Ryan Johansson was in action for the Bundesliga champions in the International Champions Cup.

Ryan Johansson in action for Bayern against Arsenal.
Ryan Johansson in action for Bayern against Arsenal.
Image: Ringo Chiu

PROMISING TEENAGER RYAN Johansson started for Bayern Munich in their 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in the International Champions Cup on Wednesday.

The Irish-eligible 18-year-old, whose mother comes from Mullingar, lined out in the Bayern midfield as Eddie Nketiah nabbed the decisive goal for Arsenal in their win at Dignity Health Sports Park in California.

Johansson was born in Luxembourg and his father is Swedish, meaning he is also eligible to play for those nations. He made his international debut for Ireland’s U19s in a friendly against Wales in 2018, and speaking to The42 earlier this year, his mother Christine said he is committed to playing for Ireland.

“He’s played for all three countries, but the best experience he had was with Ireland,” she said at the time.

“He wanted to make the decision around his 18th birthday. There was no pressure from either myself or his father, it was Ryan’s decision.

But his heart is very much really with Ireland, and I’m a very happy Irish mother.”

Johansson played out the first half for Bayern before he was withdrawn against Arsenal. 

A strong Arsenal line-up took the lead early in the second half when Bayern defender Louis Poznanski scored an own goal.

But the German giants equalised through Robert Lewandowski, who struck with a brilliant header in the 71st minute.

However, Nketiah would claim a win for Arsenal with a late tap-in after the contest opened up in the final half-hour.

Arsenal were the livelier of the two teams early on, with Mesut Ozil firing a sixth-minute effort across the face of goal from inside the area.

While Bayern – who handed a debut to Benjamin Pavard in the second half following his arrival from Stuttgart – looked dangerous on the counter-attack, it was Arsenal appearing more likely to break through.

However, the Bundesliga champions almost opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark.

Thomas Muller met David Alaba’s low cross from the left, but the forward was denied by Bernd Leno from close range, before the Arsenal goalkeeper also pushed away a Daniels Ontuzans strike.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then led a blistering Arsenal counter-attack before playing in Ozil, who was denied by Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer from an angle in the 38th minute.

Arsenal took the lead just four minutes into the second half thanks to a Poznanski own goal.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan picked out Aubameyang with a pass to the right and the attacker’s cross was turned into his own net by Poznanski.

That led to a far more open encounter as chances start to come at both ends, with Leno tipping a Kingsley Coman strike over the crossbar in the 66th minute.

Bayern drew level five minutes later, Lewandowski – introduced at half-time – brilliantly heading a Serge Gnabry cross into the top corner.

Gnabry forced Emiliano Martinez, who replaced Leno at the break, into a diving save from 25 yards before Coman fired just wide of the goalkeeper’s post in the 81st minute.

Moments after Nketiah forced a save from Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulreich, the 20-year-old forward found a winner.

Tyreece John-Jules played a one-two with Calum Chambers before crossing for Nketiah to tap in and make it 2-1.

Additional reporting by Sinéad Farrell

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