Everton Under-19s qualified for the semi-finals of the Dallas Cup after recording a 2-0 victory over Ryutsu-Keizai University on Wednesday.
The young Blues needed to win by two goals to be in with a chance of progressing to the semi-finals, and a wonderful solo effort from David Henen set the Blues on their way early in the first half.
Substitute Jack Bainbridge then tapped home a vital second with 15 minutes remaining to leave the Toffees with a strong goal difference.
After a tight opening to the contest, in which both sides cancelled out one another’s attacking threats, the deadlock was broken on 16 minutes with a superb solo effort by Henen.
The on-loan Belgian still had plenty to do when he received possession on the edge of the area - but the 18-year-old proved more than up to the task, beating two defenders before firing past goalkeeper Eiki Kato from a tight angle.
The first half remained a tight affair but Ryutsu-Keizai came close to an equaliser with their first clear opportunity.
Ayumu Tachibana weaved his way through the young Blues’ back line before unleashing a fierce strike that struck inside of the post before being cleared to safety.
But Everton ended the opening period in the ascendancy as Kieran Dowell’s shot was deflected into the side netting, before, from the resulting corner, Ryan Ledson went within inches of netting a carbon copy of his goal against LA Galaxy after a well-rehearsed move.
Mateusz Hewelt once again shone between the posts with a number of important saves. One of which, came five minutes after the restart as the Blues’ goalkeeper did well to parry away Yuya Takazawa’s fierce left-footed attempt.
Ledson again went close with a rasping 25-yard drive which required an acrobatic save to keep the lead to one.
But it was Bainbridge who would eventually strike to get the Blues an all-important second.
Delial Brewster, who had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes, broke free inside the area before pulling the ball back to Bainbridge who diverted home.
There was still time for more drama when the lively Ayuma Tachibana waltzed his way into the penalty area, but Ledson was on hand to block the forward’s goal-bound effort and ensure a second successive clean sheet.
The young Blues missed out on top spot in the group after River Plate recorded a 7-0 win over LA Galaxy, but go through to the final four of the competition as the best runners-up.
Everton's opponents will be revealed on Thursday - keep an eye on evertonfc.com for details.