A relieved Brendan Rodgers has complemented the effort of his players after they snuck past Championship high-flyers Middlesbrough in the League Cup…
Liverpool secured their place in round four of this season’s Capital One Cup at Anfield last night but it was far from straight forward.
Against an in-form Middlesbrough side, Brendan Rodgers‘ much-changed Reds eventually triumphed 14-13 in a seemingly never-ending penalty shootout.
Earlier, goals from 17-year-old midfielder Jordan Rossiter and substitute Suso had been cancelled out by Adam Reach and a 123rd minute Patrick Bamford spot kick.
Reflecting on a dramatic evening at his post-match press conference, Rodgers hailed the effect the nature of victory could have on morale.
“It was great for the spirit of the team,” commented the 41-year-old. “The dressing room is very happy, we got through and we’re into the next round.
“We haven’t started great this season, but whilst we’ve still been finding our form, I think we’ve shown in the cup games that we certainly have that character and fight.
“I was obviously pleased to get through and that experience, even though it was a long night for everyone, was great for our young players. It’s good to win, no matter how you win.
“We played OK in the game; we didn’t create a great deal, to be honest, but we showed good perseverance to keep going.”
Not for the first time this season there was plenty of room for improvement as the hosts looked devoid of ideas going forward for long periods.
At the back, another goal was conceded from a set-piece before sloppiness gifted Boro their second equaliser from the spot.
Rodgers acknowledged: “We’re making mistakes at the moment – too many mistakes. The first goal I was disappointed with, and even more so the second goal.
“We were in control of the game, Middlesbrough’s legs were just about gone and we didn’t need to offer them any encouragement, but we gave the ball away sloppily and they go through and get the penalty.
“But the players showed great resilience and mentality to keep going. And at the end, when it was needed they showed wonderful composure, some of our young players stepping up to take the penalties.
“It was very difficult – even the ‘keepers scored. It was really good quality. You can see why Middlesbrough are up near the top of the Championship, they are a good side and are organised.
“We wish them luck now for the rest of their season.”
Amongst the positives were a number of encouraging individual performances, not least from debutants Rossiter and Jordan Williams, who replaced his U21 colleague during the second half.
Elsewhere, Luis Enrique, making his first start in almost a year following a knee injury, came in for special praise from his manager after an energetic display at left-back.
“I was really impressed with Jose Enrique,” analysed Rodgers. “I watched Albert Adomah [his opposite number] in the Championship when I was with Swansea City and I know how good a player he is and how fast he is.
“There’s not many fitter than Albert. Jose came in and played the whole game against him. I thought he was outstanding.”
The draw for round four will be made later tonight (Wednesday).
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