Liverpool FC 1
Valencia CF 1
Report by Harvey Latimer
Ballymena was the place to be on Monday night as Liverpool and Valencia got their SuperCupNI Elite journey underway at the Showgrounds
Some top class football was on show for the Ballymena crowd from the first whistle and the Spanish outfit should have been in front early on. Valencia forward Lucas Nunez hit straight at Nathan Morana. Struggling with the Valencia press and the tireless work rate of Joaquim Utges, Liverpool were lucky not to fall behind before the break. Oriol Marty pickpocketed Liverpool defender Luca Furnell-Gill but Morana saved again. The Liverpool goalkeeper was worked again by Utges shortly after.
Despite all the intricate passing moves, Valencia’s best chance came via route one. A long ball from the back found Pablo Lopez, who raced through on goal but blasted his shot over. Lopez shot over once more after a pull back from Jan Montes and Nunez was guilty of missing two clear-cut chances in quick succession. The Merseysiders could not get going in the opening 40 minutes and their main outlet of Trent Kone-Doherty was being extremely well marshalled by full back Miguel Monferrer, but they were unpunished due to their opponents’ wastefulness.
The chances continued in the second half. Substitute David Martinez almost made an instant impact as his deflected effort was only inches past the post. In football, if you don’t take your chances you will be punished and Liverpool took full advantage.
Out of nothing, Keyrol Figueroa found the back of the net with a long range strike, putting his side ahead, much to the amusement of the well-supported Liverpool crowd. Liverpool looked to extend their advantage, Trent Kone-Doherty chopped onto his right but dragged his shot wide. But in the 56th minute, Valencia finally found success in front of goal with Joaquim Utges opening his Supercup account after being teed up by Lopez.
The Reds were feeling the pressure from the Spaniards who looked the most likely to grab the next goal. It nearly came as captain Martinez’s long throw reached Cesar Bonafe but he failed to generate any power on his header. Liverpool’s best chance in the second half fell to tricky midfielder Cody Pennington.
Receiving the ball in the box on the half turn before taking a touch around the defender but accuracy was lacking as the shot sailed over the Valencia goal. Conviction in the final third was an evident issue for both sides, however, Pablo Lopez had plenty of it on his effort from distance that left Nathan Morana rooted to the spot. Only the woodwork denied Lopez from putting Valencia ahead.
Three minutes was added on and it was enough time for both sides to have a chance to win the game. Valencia substitute Pablo Reyes scraped the outside of the post with his curling effort before Figueroa had a glorious chance to win the game with a second goal. Great work from Liverpool full back Josh Davidson on the flank who stood the ball up to the Liverpool winger but his header was high and wide.