Arsenal have qualified for the knockout stages of the NextGen series after an impressive 4-2 victory over Athletic Bilbao on Thursday night.

The north London club have always had a strong academy and youth team manager Terry Burton was confident that his side would be able to make the matter stages of the Under-19 tournament.

However, after four games in which his side failed to score, there was extra pressure on their match against Bilbao, who themselves have a rich tradition of promoting players from the Basque region of Spain.

Jon Toral
Jon Toral in action against Athletic Bilbao at Underhill [NextGen]

Arsenal knew that a win would be enough to see them through and they got off to the perfect start when former Barcelona midfielder Jon Toral opened the scoring after just nine minutes.

The 17-year-old was signed from the famed La Masia academy in the summer of 2011 along with fellow Barcelona youngster Hector Bellerin, who started at right-back against Bilbao, and has quickly established himself in the Arsenal Under-19 side.

Having given Arsenal the perfect start, the hosts were soon pegged back when Isaac Hayden fouled Gorka Santamaria and Ager Aqueche coolly slotted home a penalty to show that this Bilbao side would still pose a threat.

But the club that produced the likes of Fernando Llorente, Iker Muniain and Javier Martinez, was unable to live with a lively Arsenal side put that game to bed in a 10-minute spell in the second half.

After a raft of chances for both sides in the second 45 minutes, it was another clever piece of work in the 71<sup>st minute from Toral who played a cutting pass to Hayden who in turn found Zak Ansah and the striker slid in to restore Arsenal's lead.

The game was wrapped up just minutes later as Martin Angha, who was on the bench in the Champions League on Tuesday night, hit the ball across the face of goal for Toral to stoop in and head the ball home.

In the 82st minute Hayden put the icing on the cake when he poked in from close range, before a late consolation goal from Yerai Alvarez concluded proceedings, with Arsenal safely through to the knockout stages.