STOKE CITY’S Under-19s suffered penalty heartache in the Altstatten International Tournament Final on Saturday evening against Atletico Paranaense.
After neither side could find a breakthrough in normal time, it was the Brazilian club who kept their nerve from the spot to claim a 4-2 shootout victory and be crowned champions.
City had to settle for second spot after fighting valiantly throughout the two-day competition, including the final where they came up against a strong Atletico side who had earlier beaten the Potters in the group stage.
Glyn Hodges’ side made the brighter start in front of a large crowd as Kieran Monlouis planted a long-range header into the palms of the opposition ‘keeper.
Joel Taylor was next to have an effort for the Potters as the tricky winger pounced on a loose ball before working the it onto his left foot and seeing a 25-yard effort fly off target.
It wasn’t until the second period that Atletico fashioned a real opening and City were grateful to the agile reflexes of Dale Eve who kept out a near-post header with a strong hand.
City remained solid for much of the game and almost broke the deadlock when right back Jake Cook won the ball deep inside the opposition half before his attempted shot from the edge-of-the-area went narrowly wide of the far post.
Australian forward Peter Skapetis then saw an effort go over the crossbar after finding space just inside the area, before Eve denied an onrushing forward and Mason Watkins cleared a powerful drive off the line.
A number of late substitutions slowed the pace of the game as the realisation of penalties loomed and Atletico had their goalkeeper to thank in the shootout as he saved two Stoke spot-kicks to claim the winners title and leave the Potters to settle for runners-up position