Chuba Akpom scored a hat-trick as Arsenal beat a Singapore Select XI 4-0 to reach the Barclays Asia Trophy final.
Arsenal struggled to truly impose themselves for long spells, but Akpom – who has spent time on loan at Brentford, Coventry City and Nottingham Forest in recent seasons without scoring – added late gloss having broken the deadlock after 30 minutes.
A Jack Wilshere penalty doubled Arsenal’s advantage on the hour, before Akpom netted a spot-kick of his own and completed his hat-trick with a powerful header.
Akpom had never previously scored a senior goal for the club, but his treble helps set up a final against Everton, who beat Stoke City on penalties earlier in the day.
Petr Cech – Arsenal’s only major close-season signing so far – was given a watching brief at the National Stadium and saw his new side make a slow start to the encounter.
The visitors eventually found their feet, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain producing a powerful drive to test goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud after 15 minutes.
The England midfielder fancied his chances again soon after, but sent the ball whistling over the crossbar from 30 yards.
Arsenal broke the deadlock through Akpom on the half-hour mark. After Wilshere had seen his route to goal blocked by Baihakki Khaizan, the ball fell kindly to the youngster who drilled home a low effort.
Izwan collected at Akpom’s feet as the Premier League side looked to instantly double their advantage, while fellow youth product Alex Iwobi scooped well over when played through on goal 10 minutes after the break.
Arsenal had to wait until the 60th minute to finally double their advantage, with Wilshere slotting home a penalty after Sirina Camara had caught Mathieu Debuchy in the box, and Akpom doubled his own tally with another spot-kick 16 minutes later – Izwan lunging recklessly at the feet of Jon Toral.
Akpom’s treble was complete in the 79th minute when the forward climbed to head home a well-flighted Hector Bellerin cross, and he would have finished with four goals had it not been for a strong Izwan save in the 90th minute.
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