Danny Ward’s penalty heroics were not enough to stop Liverpool Under-23s losing 1-0 to Sparta Prague in the Premier League International Cup.
Czech winger Srdjan Plavsic atoned for his spot kick miss to fire home the only goal of the evening, in a game which saw Harry Wilson also fluff his lines from 12 yards.
The result means the Reds’ hopes of qualifying for the next round of the tournament hang in the balance, with PSV Eindhoven awaiting them on December 19 in the final group stage game.
It will be tough for Ward to take, after the Welsh goalkeeper was a surprise inclusion in Neil Critchley’s starting line-up, making his first appearance at this level this season.
Having found first-team opportunities hard to come by – his only senior showing coming in the EFL Cup defeat to Leicester – the 24-year-old provided a timely reminder of his abilities from 12 yards.
A Wembley hero for Huddersfield Town last season, saving the vital penalty the play-off final shoot-out to send the Terriers up, he replicated that once more in the slightly less glamourous surroundings of a Tuesday night at Prenton Park.
After Conor Masterson gave away the spot kick with 12 minutes remaining, Ward dived to his left to save the effort from Plavsic, before seeing the follow-up shot sail over the bar.
But with just four minutes left to play, Plavsic redeemed…