Charlton's U13s and U14s kicked off their Madrid Cup campaign in fine fashion on Friday, securing 3-0 wins against Djurgårdens IF and Inter Milan and earning a goalless draw against European giants Real Madrid.
Heading into day two, the young Addicks sit top of the table on goal difference.
Charlton 3 Djurgårdens IF 0
Kieran Culleton’s side started the tournament with a 3-0 triumph over Swedish side Djurgardens IF on Friday morning.
Charlton came out the blocks raring to go and created several chances inside the opening quarter of an hour, whilst limiting the opposition in the process.
Following multiple corners and set pieces, the young Addicks got the breakthrough as Kelechi Ffrench was slipped through on goal and the pacey winger showed great composure to slot home on 18 minutes.
10 minutes into the second half and Charlton found themselves two goals ahead. Mishel Nduka played a fantastic ball through the Djurgardens defence for Ffrench to run onto. The winger took his time and picked out the right pass, cutting the ball back for Theo Laronde to rifle home.
Just moments later the youngsters secured their win in style as they extended their lead to three. A great piece of play from Laronde saw his deflected pass find the feet of Ethan Jeche and the forward controlled the ball well, before calmly slotting into the opposing corner.
Charlton 3 Inter Milan 0
In their second bout of the day, the boys claimed an emphatic victory over European heavyweights Inter Milan. It was a superb display from the young Addicks who controlled the game throughout.
Charlton took the lead early on through Jeche, who latched onto a through ball inside the Inter penalty box, calmly took it round the keeper and coolly converted from close range.
Moments after the second half began, the young Addicks were awarded a free-kick just metres inside the opposition’s half. Ayden Minto St-Aimie stepped up and sent a lofted ball towards Kit Fleming at the back post, where he confidently volleyed home to double Charlton’s lead.
The triumph was almost sealed with six minutes still to play as Laronde lined up a free-kick from 35 yards out. The midfielder hammered his effort goalwards, only for it to clip the wrong side of the bar and go out for a goal-kick.
In the dying embers, Ffrench collected the ball just inside the Inter half and took it past a handful of players, running the length of the half and eventually firing home into the top corner - a sensational solo goal.
The opposition claimed their first real opportunity with seconds remaining on the clock; from the restart they attacked down the right-hand side, where the ball fell to their forward in the box who sent an effort goalwards, but Finley Lapper was on hand to make an important save and preserve a second clean sheet in as many games.
Charlton 0 Real Madrid 0
In their final fixture of the day, the boys took on the Galacticos on the Mario Suárez pitch. Heading into the tie, the two sides were level on points at the top of Group D, with Charlton occupying first position owing to goal difference.
The Spanish side started the clash strongly, keeping hold of the majority of possession within the opening quarter of an hour.
With 20 minutes played, Madrid's number nine found himself through on goal, but his shot was comfortably claimed by Lapper.
Lapper was called into action once more shortly after the half-time interval, coming off his line quickly to deny Real Madrid's forward and steer the ball out for a corner to keep the scores level.
Charlton's first threat on goal came with seven minutes to play, when Ffrench picked the ball up halfway inside the opposition’s half and sent a strike towards the top corner, only to see it saved by Madrid's stopper.
In the final moments of the game, both sides had huge opportunities to break the deadlock, with the first falling to Charlton. A ball rebounded off a Real Madrid defender and bounced through to Ffrench who honed in on goal and sent a strike goalwards, but the winger's effort was repelled by the keeper yet again.
The tie came down to the last kick of the game as Real Madrid were given a free-kick just wide of the penalty box. Their midfielder swung in a deep ball to the back post where it was met by a Real attacker and sent goalwards. Lapper was beaten in the Charlton net but a heroic last-ditch goalline clearance came from one of the young Addicks' defenders.
Culleton's side conclude their Group D campaign against FC Spartak Trnava and D10 Academy on Saturday.
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)