Wednesday 24 September 2014 17:35, UK
Brendan Rodgers praised Liverpool's character after seeing them prevail in an epic Capital One Cup penalty shoot-out with Middlesbrough.
After an entertaining contest at Anfield had ended 2-2, spot-kicks were required to determine a winner.
Patrick Bamford and Raheem Sterling missed early on, but the quality and composure shown in sudden death meant 30 efforts from 12 yards were required.
In the end, Albert Adomah blazed wide, allowing Liverpool to toast a 14-13 success and a place in the fourth round.
Asked how important it was for his side to come out on top after a difficult start to the Premier League season, Rodgers told Sky Sports: “It was very important. You can see how happy the players are. They are competitive players, they want to win in every competition.
“Tonight, a lot of the players haven’t played a great deal. Jose Enrique, I thought, was outstanding, he got through the whole game and extra-time and showed good composure on his penalty.
“We’re all very happy. We’re in the hat for the next round, that’s all we want.”
Rodgers added on an enthralling encounter: “It was a great quality of penalty, I thought both teams showed great composure.
“We’re obviously very pleased to get through after being in the lead and giving away poor goals, to be honest. At the moment we’re making too many mistakes, but I can’t fault the character and the mentality of the players because they kept going.
“In the extra period of time, in the 30 minutes, we were very good. We had to step up to get into the next round, we won it on penalties, and congratulations to Middlesbrough, they were excellent and I can see why they are towards the top of the Championship.
“But great for us to get through and a great night for our young players.”
Rodgers handed a first start to academy star Jordan Rossiter and saw the 17-year-old net inside the opening 10 minutes, but he was by no means the only youngster to catch the eye.
“I thought he was excellent, showed really good composure, his temperament was good and he followed up the finish really well, because it wasn’t an easy one, he had to play it through bodies,” said Rodgers.
“Young Jordan Williams coming on as well, I thought he showed great stature and presence on the field, was calm on the ball, passed it well and was excellent.
“And young Suso, I must give credit to him because he hasn’t had a lot of chances over the course of the season so far, but he came on, he was bright, created his goal and showed good composure in the penalties. So, all round, it was a good night.”
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka was also able to take plenty of positives from the tie, with the Spaniard hoping that an eye-catching display at the home of a top flight heavyweight will serve his side well as they look to build on a promising start to the Sky Bet Championship campaign.
He said: “It’s football. The most important thing for me is that I have to tell them ‘thank you’. They were brilliant, our crowd were brilliant, everything was brilliant apart from the last penalty. Hopefully now our crowd are excited about this season again.
“I was speaking with the players before extra-time, I was speaking with the players – with Patrick Bamford and Jelle Vossen before they came onto the pitch – and we were going to have one chance to score one goal.
“We scored the goal and we got the penalties, but we lost. We have another game on Saturday to look forward to.”