Phil Thompson says Liverpool’s penalty-shoot-out against Middlesbrough was stunning – but their overall performance wasn’t.
Brendan Rodgers’ side progressed to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup following the longest shoot-out in the history of the competition as 30 kicks were taken before they ran out 14-13 winners.
Championship side Middlesbrough twice came from behind during regulation play to force penalties, as Adam Reach and Patrick Bamford cancelled out goals from Jordan Rossiter and Suso.
But despite a pulsating night of football, former captain Thompson expressed concerns about Liverpool’s form ahead of Saturday’s Merseyside derby against Everton.
“I would like to say that it was a marked improvement, but that would be far from the point,” he told Sky Sports.
“There were a lot of good performances, but in the final third you needed the ball to be moved quicker. I don’t think that happened.
“I thought there were some great performances with the derby in mind. There was Adam Lallana, there was Raheem Sterling, which you expect now, and Brendan Rodgers was right to mention Jose Enrique because he hasn’t had a lot of game time. I thought he was absolutely top class at left-back.
“The defending wasn’t very good, though. For the first Middlesbrough goal, the goalkeeper was pushing everybody further forward, so if you’ve got good delivery – and Grant Leadbitter has – the gap is too far between goalkeeper and defence.
“They should have been back another two yards and then it’s very difficult to get that ball correct. I thought they gave them too much space.”
Thompson said both teams deserve credit for a compelling penalty contest which was only settled when Albert Adomah missed with his second - and Middlesbrough’s 15th – attempt from the spot.
Bamford and Sterling both missed their first efforts, but every other player, including both goalkeepers, converted at least once on a record-breaking evening.
Liverpool became only the second side in the top four tiers of English football to ever score 14 penalties and Thompson applauded the players for handling the pressure.
- Liverpool only second team to score 14 penalties
- 12 teams have reached double figures
- First time a side has scored 10+ penalties in League Cup
- Previous League Cup shoot-out record: 9-8
“I’ve never seen anything like it and there were some stunning ones,” he added.
“It’s ok for the strikers to take them, but the defenders from both sides took some astonishing penalty kicks, going high and going down the middle. They showed tremendous courage.
“They then had to go around again and guys were probably thinking ‘I don’t want to take another one’. Both teams deserve great credit for their concentration.
“The pressure was on Liverpool to score theirs, but once they did the pressure was enormous on Middlesbrough – the players and the fans – and they stood up to be counted. Maybe there was going to be one to take it a little bit easy and Albert was the man to do it, thankfully for Liverpool.
“It’s a shame for him but they’ve done themselves proud.”