Arsene Wenger hailed the impact of teenager Eddie Nketiah as he came off the bench to rescue Arsenal by scoring twice in a 2-1 extra-time victory over Norwich in the Carabao Cup fourth round
Arsene Wenger hailed the impact of two-goal hero Eddie Nketiah after the 18-year-old came off the bench to steer Arsenal past Norwich in the Carabao Cup fourth round.
Nketiah made it 1-1 with an 85th-minute equaliser, 15 seconds after coming off the bench, before going on to head in the winning goal six minutes into extra-time.
The London-born striker was making his home debut for the Emirates, having made a late appearance in their 4-2 win at BATE Borisov last month.
Wenger was delighted with the manner of Nketiah’s finishes, saying he showed an awareness that is difficult to teach at that age.
Highlights of the Carabao Cup fourth-round match between Arsenal and Norwich
“He was decisive and overall he has the flare to anticipate when you are in the box,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “That’s a quality you cannot give at that age anymore. You either have it or you don’t, so that’s very positive for him.
“I like the header as well that he scored because he’s not tall. He was very high and it shows that determination when heading is there for the guy that wants it.”
Nketiah admitted it was a dream come true to score two goals on his home debut, which ended with the Emirates crowd chanting “Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!” as they celebrated their new star.
Eddie Nketiah said it was a dream come true to mark his home debut with two goals as Arsenal came from behind to beat Norwich 2-1 in extra time in the Carabao fourth-round
“I’m just delighted to make my home debut and score two goals for Arsenal. It’s a great feeling for me and my family,” Nketiah told Sky Sports after the game.
“To hear the fans screaming my name, it’s been a childhood dream for me. Hopefully it’s just the start and you will see many more goals and better performances from me.”
“It made me feel very privileged to be welcomed by the fans. I just want to continue impressing the fans because they mean a lot to the club and to me.”
Arsenal looked second best against a Norwich side who could have extended their lead after Josh Murphy broke the deadlock in the 34th minute.
Murphy, Nelson Oliveira and Mario Vrancic came close for Norwich before Wenger introduced Nketiah onto the field.
His first touch was to tap the ball in from Francis Coquelin’s flick-on, while he went on to rise highest from another corner to head Arsenal into the quarter-finals.
And having made wholesale changes to his Arsenal side, Wenger said he was grateful in the end that youth, not experience, was his only option on the bench.
“This is the cup where I decide every year to educate young players who have good potential,” Wenger added.
“I think it’s good that you have only young players on the bench in this situation, because if you have an experienced player, you go for him.
“In this case, you just think, who can help me. And having young strikers on the bench, that’s great.”
Norwich boss Daniel Farke left the Emirates aggrieved, with Mohamed Elneny escaping a red card despite appearing to be the last man when hauling down Murphy.
“I’m not a guy who calls for red cards, but this situation because we were one-on-one with the goalkeeper. That’s almost 100 per cent 2-0 and then we’re in the next round,” Farke said.
“Elneny should have seen a red card and then it’s 11 men against 10 and they are not able to build so much pressure and there are not all those set pieces and no 1-1. To accept this decision is really hard.
“I’m very proud of my lads for this performance, especially coming 48 hours after a high intensity derby win, but we’re very disappointed because we feel we deserve to be in the next round.
“But in football sometimes you don’t earn what you deserve and you must accept that.”