Liverpool scrape past in longest shoot-out
LIVERPOOL reached the fourth round of the League Cup on Tuesday after winning an epic and nerve-racking penalty shoot-out 14-13 at home to second-tier Middlesbrough, with the teams ending extra time tied at 2-2.
Middlesbrough's Albert Adomah brought the gripping penalty contest to an end when he fired wide after both teams had kept their nerve in sudden death, shattering the record for the longest shoot-out in the League Cup.
Liverpool, who were a shadow of the team that finished second in the Premier League last season in the new campaign, twice took the lead against their lower-league opponents, but defensive errors were once again their undoing.
They had gone ahead through debutant Jordan Rossiter after 10 minutes, but a familiar failing appeared as Adam Reach was allowed to head home unchallenged midway through the second half.
Spaniard Suso looked like he had given Liverpool victory with a low strike late in extra time, but the hosts imploded with seconds remaining as Kolo Toure conceded a penalty after a terrible backpass from Raheem Sterling. Patrick Bamford slotted home.
Sterling and Bamford were the only players to miss in the shoot-out, which comfortably surpassed the previous highest score record of 9-8, until Adomah fired off-target.
The shoot-out was made necessary by the draw, with Middlesbrough proving a more stubborn obstacle for Liverpool to overcome than the local council planners who had approved their proposals to redevelop Anfield just hours before kick-off.
The famous old stadium has witnessed numerous momentous occasions, and the denouement of this one was as theatrical as many that had preceded it. Manager Brendan Rodgers admitted beforehand that Liverpool needed a win to regain confidence after a morale-sapping defeat by West Ham United in their previous fixture.
His players duly obliged, but only by the narrowest of margins, having once again committed the kind of defensive errors that continue to plague them."It was very important to get a result and the players are very happy in the changing room. We're in the hat and that's all we want," said a relieved Rodgers.
"It's good to win, no matter how you win. It is good for our camaraderie and team spirit because we have a massive game at the weekend (against Everton), but we are making too many mistakes."
Rodgers was very happy with the performance of Rossiter, a prodigiously talented youngster whom Robbie Fowler has compared to Steven Gerrard.
Middlesbrough's Spanish coach, Aitor Karanka, managed to strike an upbeat tone despite coming so close to causing a major upset. "I told the players...I don't have the words to tell them 'thank you', because they were brilliant."