Charlton's U13s and U14s finished sixth at the 2023 Madrid Cup after losing out to Atlético Madrid on penalties following a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Charlton 3 Atlético Madrid 3 (Atlético win 2-0 on penalties)
After losing against IF Brommapojkana in the quarter-finals, the young Addicks entered the fifth place play-off, taking on reigning champions Atletico Madrid at the Polideportivo José Caballero.
Both sides topped their respective groups but were defeated in their quarter-final ties, with Atletico tasting defeat against rivals Real Madrid.
Charlton started the game on the front foot and went ahead inside six minutes through Kelechi Ffrench, who tapped in on the volley at the back post following a superb delivery into the box.
The young Addicks' excellent start was soon cancelled out. Rocco Alexander made an incredible save to deny the Spanish side's winger one-on-one, only for their centre-forward to rise highest to head home the rebound and level the scoring.
The boys responded well from the setback and regained the lead just three minutes after Atlético's equaliser. Ayden St-Aimie won a free-kick just wide of the penalty box and played a sneaky pass towards the near post, where the ball was deflected into the back of the Atlético net and Lauren Rodrigues de Castro ran off in celebration.
Charlton were cruelly punished shortly after netting their second as a mishap in communication down the right-hand side saw Atlético's winger burst through towards the box, and he did well to get the ball out from under his feet and square to the number nine to rifle home from close range.
The end-to-end encounter continued to produce a number of promising opportunities for either side and the young Addicks thought they had snatched the winner with five minutes remaining. Kingsley Onwuka received the ball on the edge of the box and thundered his effort into the top-right corner for Charlton to take the lead for the third time in the contest.
It was a devastating finish to the tie as Atlético levelled the scoring once again with the final kick of the game. Their midfielder swung in a perfectly-weighted corner to the centre of the box for a defender to tap in.
With the scores level at full-time, the tie was to be decided through a penalty shootout. Theo Laronde stepped up first for Charlton and his effort was fired over the bar, with Atlético netting their first.
Onwuka stood up to the plate next and hammered his effort towards the corner, but unbelievably the Atlético shotstopper parried the ball away. With Charlton failing to score either of their penalties, Atlético needed to score to claim the fifth-place finish and that they did with a fantastic finish into the top-left corner.
That meant the young Addicks finished sixth, above the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan and SL Benfica.
U14s winger Kelechi Ffrench was named in the Madrid Cup Team of the Tournament following an excellent display across the three days. Congraulations, Kelechi!
Charlton fans can support the academy by signing up to the Valley Gold scheme. Valley Gold enables fans to support the club’s academy in unearthing the talents of tomorrow, as well as giving them the chance to win cash prizes.
(Article by Alex Forrest)