Liverpool 2 (14): Rossiter 10', Suso 108'
Middlesbrough 2 (13): Reach 62', Bamford (pen.) 120+2'
The biggest news of the evening came in the form of a start for Jordan Rossiter, who is the latest Scouse academy product to make his first senior squad start. Suppose Rickie Lambert falls in that category too, and the striker served as captain on a night that saw Steven Gerrard finally rested. Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, and Lazar Markovic rounded out the attacking contingent in support of Lambert, while Rossiter and Lucas started deeper in midfield with Javier Manquillo, Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho, and Jose Enrique at the back and Simon Mignolet in goal.
It was a side full of new faces, and in the tenth minute it was Rossiter who gave Liverpool the lead in the tenth minute after some terrible Middlesbrough defending. The ball bounced out to the 17-year-old some 30 yards out, and he hit a low drive through two defenders and Boro goalkeeper Jamal Blackman for the 1-0 lead. There was a good bit of pressing and possession from the hosts after the opener, and it looked only a matter of time before Liverpool would add to their lead.
But they were pushed further and further from the Middlesborough goal, and despite excellent play from Lallana and Sterling, they couldn't test Blackman again. Their failure to add to the lead left the door open for Boro, who managed an equalizer just after the hour. A handball on Sakho left the visitors with a free-kick on the edge of the area on the far side, and Grant Leadbitter's delivery was inch-perfect, allowing Adam Reach to beat Enrique to the ball and head past Mignolet.
Boro nearly stole the win later in the half, first with an Adam Clayton drive from distance requiring a last-ditch Toure tackle, and next when Clayton found himself one-on-one with Mignolet only to hit the outside of the post. Liverpool's next chances wouldn't come until extra time, when Jose Enrique forced Blackman into a good save. They got what looked like a winner early in the second half of extra time through Suso, who'd come on in place of Lazar Markovic. It wasn't to be, however, as a horrendous Raheem Sterling back-pass sprung a Boro break and Kolo Toure clattered over Patrick Bamford, who converted from the spot to send the match to penalties.
Penalties took nearly as long as the actual match, with only one miss apiece through the first ten takers, and Simon Mignolet scoring on the 11th time of asking to beat Jamal Blackman, who stepped up to convert one of his own. In the second round, Kenneth Adomah missed wide to give Liverpool a 14-13 win. 14-13.
There's no massive reflection here--a match that wasn't very enjoyable to watch, with more of the same in terms of the lack of cohesion and defensive woes. There were excellent individual performances, most notably Adam Lallana, and some not great ones, and to top it off we witnessed the silliest penalty shootout in recent memory. Onto the derby on Saturday, likely without Raheem Sterling (who played the entire match here, along with Lallana, Lucas, and the entire back line) in a starting role, and hopefully better days.