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Akpom treble lifts Gunners over Singapore

Chuba Akpom (left) celebrates scoring for Arsenal against Singapore XI on July 15. PHOTO/AFP

Chuba Akpom (left) celebrates scoring for Arsenal against Singapore XI on July 15. PHOTO/AFP

SINGAPORE, July 15- Teenager Chuba Akpom netted a hat-trick as Arsenal reached the final of the invitational Asia Trophy against Everton with a 4-0 win over a Singapore Select XI at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

The England under-20 international fired home a close range effort on the half-hour, converted a 76th minute penalty and then completed his treble four minutes later to give the FA Cup holders an emphatic win in the first match of their pre-season.

Jack Wilshere also converted a penalty for the Gunners as they set up a meeting on Saturday against Everton, who beat Stoke City in a penalty shootout earlier in the day following a goalless draw between the two Premier League sides.

Arsenal broke the deadlock after catching the home side on the counter-attack on the half-hour mark. Alex Iwobi’s pass picked out Wilshere on the right of the Singapore box and although Baihakki Khaizan made a fine tackle to halt the England international, Akpom picked up the loose ball and blasted past goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud from close range.

Akpom went close to adding a second in the 35th minute when Iwobi sent him clear but Izwan was quickly off his line to smother the youngster’s effort.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain managed to slide the ball past Izwan on a one-on-one early in the second half but saw his effort cleared off the line by Madhu Mohana.

However, the visiting side’s pressure eventually told when they won a penalty in the 61st minute after Mathieu Debuchy went down under challenge by Sirina Camara and Wilshere made no mistake from the spot as he sent Izwan the wrong way.

With the home side tiring, Arsenal won another penalty in the 76th minute after Izwan brought down Jon Toral and Akpom fired home to make it 3-0.

The 19-year-old rounded off his excellent evening by netting his third goal and Arsenal’s fourth with 10 minutes left after rising unmarked to head home a Hector Bellerin cross.

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Earlier on Wednesday, Tim Howard made a crucial save to deny Marco Van Ginkel in a shootout after a 0-0 stalemate between Everton and Stoke.

The American goalkeeper got a strong hand to turn away the Dutch midfielder’s effort in the second round of spot kicks before Phil Jagielka found the top right corner with Everton’s final attempt to seal a 5-4 victory for the Toffees.

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