By Scott Taylor
Sergi Canos’ goal was not enough as Liverpool U18s crashed out of the Frenz International Cup with a 2-1 defeat against Valencia on Saturday. Neil Critchley’s men found themselves unlucky not to have had a second goal in added time, which was controversially ruled our for offside. However, it was not to be as the Young Reds crashed out at the quarter-final stage to the Spanish outift, who themselves scraped through the group with a narrow victory over Chonburi of Thailand.
For the second game in a row, the Reds started the game on the back foot, and payed the price as Valencia took the lead. Alberto Rabasso Osuna’s cross from the right wing found an unmarked Mariano Konyk at the back post. He then headed it across goal for Francisco Jose Navarro to head the La Liga side in front.
Liverpool responded well to going a goal down by creating two chances of their own. Firstly, Tom Brewitt headed wide from an Adam Phillips set piece, before Harry Wilson forced Jorge Zapata into a superb save from the Welshman’s free-kick.
The Reds persistence was rewarded at the start of the second half when they got their equaliser within the first five minutes. Wilson’s through ball was met by Sergi Canos, who scored another calm goal, something that has been evident all season for Critchley’s chargers.
Moments later, the Reds could’ve gone in front. It was Wilson who was again involved and just when he was about to pull the trigger, Valencia defender Ivan Martinez Roca denied him with a timely challenge, which looked to sway the momentum in the match.
Roca’s tackle looked to spur Valencia on, and the Spanish side flipped the game on its head by regaining the lead on 69 minutes. Wilson unnecessarily gave the ball away in the Liverpool half and Alvaro Gomez Martin capitalised with a surging run and finish which Reds ‘keeper Ben Jackson could do nothing about.
Liverpool felt a sense of de-ja-vu when they had to respond quickly, and like in the first half had two great opportunities to equalise. Firstly, Canos headed wide with an open net right in front of him before summer signing and late substitute Toni Gomes saw his header brilliantly denied by Zapata.
The Reds thought they had sent the quarter-final into extra-time when Canos found the net only to see his celebrations denied by a controversial offside decision by the officials. It wasn’t to be for the Under 18s, but Critchley can take plenty of positives from the tour.
Liverpool U18s XI: Jackson, Whelan, Johnston, Brewitt, Lewis, Chirivella, Phillips, Madger Gomes, Wilson, Canos, Maxwell.
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