It was a classic match, although it didn't have to be. Liverpool clung to a 2-1 lead deep into extra time and it looked like they'd done enough to advance, but a moment of madness from Raheem Sterling, a trip from Kolo Toure, and an equalizing penalty for Middlesbrough sent the match to a shootout. And it was one of the best shootouts you'll ever see. Both goalies took penalties as the match resisted its conclusion, and Middlesbrough cracked first to give Liverpool a narrow, dramatic victory by the count of 14 penalty goals to 13.
Jordan Rossiter made his Liverpool competitive debut and scored the opening goal for the Reds after Middlesbrough's goalie was caught woefully out of position. It was a great moment for Rossiter and the goal pushed Liverpool forward in search of more.
But they couldn't find a second, and as the match wore on the fear of an equalizer grew. That it came from a free kick was infuriating given Liverpool's recent leakiness in such situations and Rodgers' public calls for defensive improvement. The worst part of the tying goal was that it meant extra time, which is the last thing Liverpool needed to endure before the Merseyside Derby.
The Reds took control in extra time with fluid passing and incisive play down the wings, and they found a breakthrough down the left flank through a brilliant piece of interplay that resulted in a scramble in front of goal and a right footed shot through traffic by Suso that reached the back of the net. 2-1 up and it should have been done and dusted at that point, but Liverpool never make it easy. So we had to sit through a second equalizer and then 27 agonizing penalties. But they advanced, and even though it was a victory that sapped a lot of energy, it was vital that they came away from that game alive in the cup.
Next up: Everton.