In a joint record for the competition Liverpool were crowned eventual winners against Middlesbrough last night after the penalty tally read 14-13. A phenomenal end to a difficult night for the Reds who looked to have sealed things with a Suso goal late on only for Raheem Sterling to make a terrible pass, forcing Kolo Toure to concede a penalty.
Brendan Rodgers as expected started with a very different line up. Rickie Lambert lead the line with youngster Jordan Rossiter given his debut in midfield. Despite the assumption Boro would field a full starting XI manager Aitor did make several changes.
The game got off to a good start for Liverpool who only took nine minutes to convert. Attacking play from both teams eventually led to a break for Liverpool. Youngster Jordan Rossiter was awaiting outside the box and with a sweet strike sent his effort to the left of goal past the Middlesbrough keeper Blackman.
With the upper hand it was perhaps expected that the Reds would grasp a hold of the game at Anfield however Middlesbrough played extremely well and made things very tough. Their fans were top quality and spurred their team on immensely.
The second half saw the score still held a 1-0 but chances from Leadbitter and Tomlin meant Boro were beginning to pressure Liverpool. On the hour mark Mamadou Sakho was shown a yellow card for hand ball on the right hand edge of the box. For me, this was extremely harsh but the free kick was given and boy did Boro make the most of it.
Leadbitter whipped in the free kick and it was Reach who converted for the away side. Level pegging, it looked for a while as though Boro would go on to win this tie, Liverpool's unfamiliar XI were running out of ideas and whilst the spark of Sterling and Lallana was causing issues we were becoming too predictable for their defence.
With 15 minutes left of full time Rodgers decided to replace Lambert with Balotelli. A good move I thought as unfortunately Lambert wasn't having a brilliant game. Another youngster - Jordan Williams was also introduced for Liverpool, he replaced goalscorer Rossiter.
The full time whistle blew with the tie still level and on it went to extra time. As legs tired and Boro perhaps felt like they had more and more of a chance. The first stint of extra time led to no change. However drama would occur in the second.
A melee in the box saw Balotelli attempt to have a crack at goal but the ball flew out to Suso who struck with power and after a deflection his goal put Liverpool ahead! The glory was short lived though as 12 minutes later disaster had found its way back to Anfield.
As Liverpool fans, we tend to learn that nothing is ever done the easy way but nobody could have predicted the concentration lapse from our starlet Raheem Sterling. A daft pass back went straight into the path of two Middlesbrough players. With Patrick Bamford en route to goal, Kolo Toure simply had to do something, leave him and he's through on goal, go for the tackle and you risk a peno. And a peno is what they got.
Bamford converted to put his side back level and the tie was destined to end on penalties.
Now I've watched a fair few penalty shoot-outs in my time but this was bloody ridiculous! I won't discuss all of them because there's too soddin' many but as soon as Sterling stepped up, I knew he was going to miss, the earlier mistake had clearly got to him. Luckily though Liverpool fought right to the 30th penalty when Adomah missed his penalty.
Even the goalkeepers scored it was brilliant to watch yet slightly annoying when you've got to get up at 5:45am!
But, we made it. Now to rest up for the Everton game?!?!
I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:
@LFCKirstyLFC Thought we should have finished the game off early. That was the most intense penalty shootout I've ever seen
— Paurav Dana (@PauravD728) September 24, 2014
@LFCKirstyLFC delighted we're through, would love a wembley final. I (and I'm sure the players) could have done without the 2h+ though!
— Phil (@Phil_A01) September 23, 2014
@_theliverbird @lfc are too slow in attack no more long passes
— ILEMONA (@iLemona88) September 23, 2014