Atletico Madrid coach, Diego Simeone, on Thursday heaped praise on an inexperienced squad shorn of key players still resting from their 2018 FIFA World Cup exploits.
The Argentine expressed his feelings after the La Liga side edged out Arsenal in a pre-season friendly in Singapore on Thursday.
Missing at least eight first-team regulars after they reached the latter stages of the World Cup in Russia, Atletico held a strong Arsenal side to a 1-1 draw.
Replacement goalkeeper Antonio Adan later blasted home the winning penalty kick in a shootout.
Simeone said: “I was really happy with the performance of the youngsters. It was a great time to show what they have been training and working on for years.
“It is important for the young players to realise that the jump to the first team is still far away at this stage, but they can get a feeling of what it is like to play at that level in games like this.
“It was an impressive performance against a team as strong as Arsenal, and the players showed the work they have been doing is heading in the right direction.”
Simeone’s side face French champions Paris St Germain in the final match of the Singapore leg of the International Champions Cup on Monday.
He said he would have a better understanding of his approach to the new season next month.
He added: “The full squad will not be together until August 6 in Madrid. So, we can then really start to plan for the season ahead.”
Arsenal also had a few academy players within their ranks and 17-year-old English midfielder Smith Rowe scored a brilliant equaliser early in the second half.
They had a solid performance which impressed new coach, Unai Emery.
Emery said: “This was the stage for young players like Smith Rowe to show the quality that they possess.
“Arsenal will always give young players a chance to work with us, to show their qualities in each match.
“We want to give all our academy players a chance to stay with us and play in matches like this one today.
“Today I am happy with his (Rowe’s) work on the pitch but not only in this match but also in training.”
Emery added that he was confident midfielder Aaron Ramsey would stay at Arsenal after the Welshman admitted earlier this week that he was unsure of his future in North London.
He added: “Things happen quickly in football and I am only thinking about the matches ahead and players here in Singapore.
“Aaron is a very important player for us and I want him to stay and work with Arsenal, to show his quality, and I am confident he will stay.”