Liverpool won an incredible, historic penalty shoot-out here to progress to the last 16 of the Capital One Cup, beating Middlesbrough 14-13 in a finale that saw both goalkeepers score before Albert Adomah’s missed kick finally settled the tie.
The shoot-out had gone round to the second set before the Ghanaian put his kick wide after the teams had scored 20 successive penalties.
Liverpool had been going through to the next round following Suso’s goal in extra time before Kolo Touré stupidly brought down Patrick Bamford to concede a penalty. Bamford converted to take the game to spot-kicks.
The 17-year-old Jordan Rossiter had scored on his debut to give Liverpool the lead in the first half against a Middlesbrough team that looks the best footballing side in the north-east (not, admittedly, a hotly-contested title).
In 1997, the year of Rossiter’s birth, Middlesbrough had knocked Liverpool out of the League Cup on their way to the final and there were several moments when it looked as if history would repeat.
Frankly, Liverpool, whose inability to defend a dead ball is now becoming a matter for serious concern, were lucky to take the tie into extra time as first Adam Clayton forced a full-length save from Simon Mignolet and then pounded a shot against the crossbar. The introduction of Mario Balotelli was greeted with a fervour laced with anxiety and there were to be many more bitten fingernails before the thrilling climax from the spot.
For a generation after he stopped stalking the dreams of English bowlers, journalists would wreck the career of successive Australian batsmen by describing them as “the next Don Bradman”. So perhaps Robbie Fowler’s description of Rossiter as “the next Steven Gerrard” ought not to be taken at face value.
Nevertheless, one thing is certain. Rossiter enjoyed the better debut. Gerrard remembered his first game at Anfield, a year after Rossiter was born, as one in which he felt utterly anonymous in front of The Kop. This was different.
It was the kind of debut that you would lie in your bedroom dreaming about. Announced on the back page of tonight’s Liverpool Echo, within 10 minutes of kick-off, he was on the score sheet.
His breakthrough came via a long up-field punt from Lucas Leiva that Kenneth Omeruo tried to shepherd back to his goalkeeper, Jamal Blackman. Since they are both on loan from Chelsea, they ought to have a better understanding. Raheem Sterling got between them and the ball rebounded back towards Rickie Lambert. Blackman blocked his shot but it rolled out towards Rossiter who had the calmness to pick his spot from almost 30 yards.
Boro had not won at Anfield since 1976, when their side included a young Graeme Souness, but they did not come here overawed. On Teesside, Aitor Karanka is constructing the most interesting side Boro have had since their relegation from the Premier League.
Given the fragility Liverpool’s back four had displayed in successive matches against Aston Villa and West Ham, they were entitled to fancy their chances and they duly came. First Kike volleyed Grant Leadbitter’s corner just over the bar and then, from another, Lee Tomlin’s shot was beaten away by Simon Mignolet.
Boro resumed confidently after the interval. Rodgers’ back four continued to give their manager anxiety. From a free kick awarded when Mamadou Sakho handled outside the area, Adam Reach slipped ahead of Jose Enrique to meet the ball and they were level. It counted as a shock but few in the stadium were entirely surprised.
The duration of the shoot-out, however, was a real eye-opener.
Man of the match Reach.
Match rating 7/10.
Referee M Jones (Cheshire).
Reds given approval for Anfield expansion
Liverpool have been granted planning permission for phase one of the £100m expansion of their Anfield stadium, Liverpool City Council has announced.
In phase one the Main Stand will be expanded with a further 8,500 seats, taking the capacity of the stadium to 54,000. Liverpool hope to complete the first phase in time for the 2016-17 season, while there is no timescale on the second stage of the project, which will increase capacity of the Anfield Road end by 4,800 seats.
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