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Academy Impress Against Real Madrid and Juventus

27 October 2014

Palace's academy side enjoyed a successful weekend playing against some of the biggest names in world football as they came fourth in the Premier League Under-17 International Tournament.

Invited to participate alongside the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Arsenal at the Gunners' academy's Hale End facility, the young Eagles picked up some fine results over the course of the two-day event and were eventually pipped to third place by the Spanish giants in a play-off.

Drawn in a tough group against Juventus and eventual winners Tottenham Hotspur, the Eagles' opening match was against the Turin side and they collected a credible 0-0 draw in the hour-long contest.

Palace started well and Corie Andrews and Andre Coker both went close in the opening 15 minutes, but they had goalkeeper Bradley Comins to thank for keeping the scores level just before half-time when he made a wonder save by tipping a brilliant free-kick onto his crossbar.

The Eagles side, made up of under-16s and first year scholars, continued to dictate play in the second half and Cian Flanagan saw a good opportunity pass by but in the end a fine point was collected.

With just an hour's break, Palace then lined up against Tottenham in their second group game, who had yet to play in the tournament. This disadvantage told early on as Spurs went a goal up after 10 minutes, but Andrews produced a quickfire response as he scored a header from Coker's cross to level things up.

Just before half-time the Eagles squandered a free-kick opportunity and Spurs capitalised with a swift counter-attack which led to them leading at the break, but in the second half Michael Phillips restored parity with a penalty after Andrews was fouled inside the area.

Jacob Thorbourne saw a shot deflected wide late on, but the 2-2 draw was enough to see Palace finish above Juventus in the group and set up a mouth-watering clash with Real Madrid the next day.

The Spanish side enjoyed the better start and dictated the pace of the game, and a lapse of concentration in the Eagles defence allowed them to net what proved to be the game's only goal.

However in the second half Palace could easily have scored themselves as they put Madrid under constant pressure. Coker fired wide before Aaron-Wan Bissaka saw a shot smack off the post, and they also saw a stonewall penalty waved away after Andrews' shot was handled by a Los Blancos defender.

Ultimately Madrid clinched the third-placed spot with a 1-0 win, but for Palace's impressive youngsters it was a fantastic learning curve to play against such illustrious opponents.

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