Liverpool 2 Middlesbrough 2 [Liverpool win 14-13 on penalties]. The third round of the League Cup came to a remarkable climax at Anfield as Liverpool beat Middlesbrough 14-13 on penalties. It was an incredible end to the tie, one that took 30 minutes to complete and featured 30 spotkicks in total to equal the English record 14-13 scoreline, set three years ago when Dagenham beat Leyton Orient in the Football League Trophy.
"Our players showed great resilience to keep going," reflected relieved Brendan Rodgers. "And at the end, when it was needed they showed wonderful composure, with some of our young players stepping up to take the penalties."
The Liverpool manager must have thought he was in for a fairly uneventful night when 17-year-old midfielder Jordan Rossiter, making his debut for the Reds, scored the opening goal after ten minutes. But Adam Reach headed Boro level just after the hour mark before Mamadou Suso put Liverpool 2-1 up in extra-time. That's how the game looked to be ending before Kolo Toure fouled Patrick Bamford in the final minute of extra-time and the substitute picked himself up to drill the penalty past Simon Mignolet.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Little did we know it was to the first of a deluge of penalties as the two clubs tested each other's nerves in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Mignolet saved Boro's first penalty (ironically from Bamford) and Liverpool then made no mistake with their first four as they looked on course to progress to the fourth round of the cup. But Raheem Sterling couldn't convert the crucial fifth spot kick and so the shootout went into sudden death,
On and on we went, penalty after penalty – including both goalkeepers – as each spotkick sailed into the net. The tension in the pitch grew, so too the stress in the stands, as the shootout approached the half hour. Someone had to miss eventually, and that someone was Albert Adomah. He had scored his first effort before sudden death, but his second, the 30th kick of the shoot-out, went wide after Suso had netted for Liverpool to break Boro hearts.
"It's a relief to get through," said Rodgers. "We were practising penalties last night. We are humble enough as a group to think we would maybe go to penalties because Middlesbrough are a good side and are doing very well, so everyone practiced... but what this team has is character and we needed that tonight."
The heartbroken Adomah was given a standing ovation by the visiting fans and his manager, Aitor Karanka, was similarly proud of his players. "I think we have shown everybody what kind of club Middlesbrough are," he said. "I don't have many words to explain my feelings right now... although we have lost, our players should enjoy this."
But although the Anfield marathon in English top-flight football the overall record remains Brockenhurst's 15-14 victory over Andover in the Hampshire Senior Cup match last year.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.