MIDDLESBROUGH boss Aitor Karanka was bursting with pride after watching his side push Liverpool all the way to an epic penalty shoot-out at Anfield last night.
The Capital One Cup clash was tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes, and 2-2 after extra-time, before Liverpool finally triumphed 14-13 on penalties.
“These are the kind of games where you have to be very proud of your players, your group, your club, everything,” Karanka said.
“I think we have shown everybody what kind of club Middlesbrough are.
“I don’t have many words to explain my feelings right now.
“We have played against a Champions League team at Anfield and you know how difficult this is for us – and we have played face to face against them.
“Although we have lost, our players should enjoy this.”
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers felt his side had shown great resilience to finally emerge triumphant.
“It was a real good night for us,” he said.
“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 is good to win no matter how you do it. We played okay in the game and didn’t create a great deal to be honest, but we showed good perseverance to keep going.
“As it is at the moment, we made too many mistakes and got punished for that in the game.
“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.”
Teenage debutant Jordan Rossiter put the Reds in front after just 10 minutes, despatching a low finish from outside the box, but Boro grew into the game and equalised through Adam Reach’s 62nd-minute header.
Home goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was forced into some smart saves and the Teessiders almost snatched victory when Adam Clayton hit the post in the 85th minute.
Having survived that scare, Brendan Rodgers’ side regained the lead in the 109th minute through a strike from Suso, only for fellow substitute Patrick Bamford to win and convert a penalty in stoppage time to make it 2-2.
In the shoot-out that followed, Bamford saw his effort saved early on before Raheem Sterling did likewise and things moved into sudden-death.
Remarkably, nobody then missed until the 30th attempt, which Boro’s Albert Adomah put wide, sealing Liverpool’s victory.
It all added up to another unconvincing display by the hosts in a campaign in which they have lost three of their opening five Barclays Premier League games.
But at least it means they have returned to winning ways ahead of Saturday’s Merseyside derby against Everton at this ground.