Celtic and Everton win as SuperCupNI kicks off

Evertons Beni Baningime with RCD Espanyols Marc Gual Huguet
Evertons Beni Baningime with RCD Espanyols Marc Gual Huguet

The inaugural final of the SuperCupNI’s new Under 21 competition will see Celtic take on Everton at the Ballymena Showgrounds tomorrow evening.

In last night’s semi-finals both sides got the better of their Spanish opponents, with Celtic’s Under 21s defeating Real Sociedad 3-1 in Ballymena, while Everton’s youngsters beat Espanyol 1-0 at Coleraine Showgrounds.

Competition organisers will be hoping that the new competition helps to rejuvenate the event, that can no longer boast the crowd-pulling attractions of Manchester United and Northern Ireland.

Last night’s semi-finals certainly offered spectators something a little different, with entertaining games at both competition’s main venues.

In Ballymena, Celtic impressed on their SuperCup debut despite trailing 1-0 to Real Sociedad at half-time.

In the 44th minute, Xabi Auzmendi hit an incredible 20-yard shot that rocketed into the top corner of the Celtic net.

It may be the first goal of the SuperCupNI, but it may well prove to the best effort of the nine-day competition.

However, the Bhoys fought back in the second half, with Calvin Miller scoring two fine goals in the opening ten minutes of the second period.

His first was a tidy finish at the back post after latching onto a cross from the right.

His second saw him burn away from the Spanish defence before converting from inside the area.

Mid-way through the half, Jamie Lindsay booked Celtic’s place in tomorrow’s final with a lovely third goal.

He waltzed through the Sociedad defence, beating three defenders, before slotting the ball home.

Meanwhile, at Coleraine, it was a goal Harry Charsley goal handed Everton a 1-0 win over Barcelona-based outfit Espanyol.

The first half at the Showgrounds was a relatively tame affair, with Charsley having the best chance of the match in the 20th minute, only to be denied by the Espanyol goalkeeper.

But Charsley did find the net in the 51st minute. His penalty box effort was enough to give the Merseyside club the lead.

Everton were reduced to 10 men in the 54th minute when Liam Walsh received the first red card of the tournament.

Espanyol pushed for an equaliser in the final half an hour, but they were unable to find the net.

The two Spanish clubs will play each other in a third-placed play-off at the Ballymena Showgrounds at 2pm tomorrow, while the final will kick-off at 5pm.