Chuba Akpom’s 87th minute goal secured a 2-1 win for English Premier League side Arsenal on Thursday evening at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California, defeating the MLS All-Stars in the annual MLS All-Star Game in front of 18,000 fans.
The loss is the first for the all-stars since 2013, when they were defeated 3-1 by A.S. Roma of Italy.
San Jose Earthquakes and MLS All-Star manager Dominic Kinnear began the match in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with FC Dallas homegrown player Kellyn Acosta starting the match at left back while former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba started up top against his past rivals.
The match was an open affair straight from the opening kick, with Theo Walcott of Arsenal and Giovani Dos Santos of the all-star team each having shots saved in the first ten minutes.
Arsenal soon took the lead though through a penalty kick from Joel Campbell, who slotted past Andre Blake in the 11th minute after Laurent Ciman hauled down Campbell in the penalty area. The foul came after miscommunication between Ciman and Blake that saw the ball bounce over Blake’s head and towards goal before the foul was committed.
Acosta settled into the match well at left back and made several impressive challenges in his 56 minutes of work, including his final touch of the match, a powerful strike from distance that just sailed over the bar of Petr Cech’s goal.
Cech was beaten just prior to halftime though as the MLS All-Stars drew level through Drogba, who finished at the third time of asking following several goal line clearances from Cech and other Arsenal defenders.
Mauro Diaz entered as FC Dallas’ second MLS All-Star in the second half, replacing Dos Santos just after halftime. Diaz was active in the midfield during his time on the pitch, handling corner kick duties during the second half as well.
However the only second half tally came courtesy of Akpom, with the 20 year-old Englishman finishing via tap-in from an assist from Nacho Monreal to win the match. Akpom’s goal came at the expense of hometown goalkeeper David Bingham, with the San Jose shot stopper beaten just three minutes from time.
Akpom collected Most Valuable Player honors following the match as well, with his first-ever goal for the Arsenal senior team going down as the match-winner.