MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) – By the time Valencia even arrived in the United States for the inaugural Guinness International Champions Cup, it knew it had no shot of winning the tournament.
So the Spanish club did the next best thing, bouncing back with a pair of shutouts.
Miguel Herrero scored in the 53rd minute, giving Valencia a 1-0 victory over Everton in the fifth-place match of the eight-team Guinness tournament on Tuesday night. Valencia won both of its matches on U.S. soil in the event by a combined 5-0 count, with the club's lone loss in the tournament coming at home to AC Milan back on July 27.
''We are very proud to have played in this event,'' said Valencia coach Miroslav Djukic, the former defender for the club who took over as coach after it finished fifth in the Spanish League and just missed out on a Champions League berth this past season. ''With these matches, we have shown that we belong among the greats.''
Herrero, who goes by ''Michel,'' controlled Aly Cissohko's cross from the left side with his chest, let the ball settle at his feet and fired a one-timer past Everton goalie Joel Robles.
And it held up from there, even though Everton had more than one good chance at the equalizer.
Everton's best opportunity at breaking through came shortly after Herrero's goal, when Kevin Mirallas flicked a ball to himself, took off up the right wing and sent a cross that got through the box - but didn't result in a shot on net.
Robles kept Everton within one when he made a point-blank save on Ibanez Robert in the 69th minute, coming off his line to deny the Valencia forward.
The sixth-place finishers in the Premier League last season, Everton had two losses - both to Spanish clubs - and a draw in the tournament, which pitted eight club teams against each other in a series of exhibitions that will culminate in Real Madrid facing Chelsea in the title match Wednesday night.
''These games were fantastic,'' Everton coach Roberto Martinez said. ''We were able to work on many things. We got information from all the players. We formed partnerships and how they interacted with each other.''