MIDDLESBROUGH boss Aitor Karanka belives their cup heartache against Liverpool can spur them on in their bid to get promoted.
Boro bowed out of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night after a brave performance at Anfield.
Karanka’s side ran the Champions League outfit all the way, taking the game to penalties after a 2-2 draw.
And while they lost 14-13 after an epic shoot-out – the longest in the competition’s history – when Albert Adomah sent his penalty wide of the upright, Karanka was immensely proud of his team’s display and feels things are coming together nicely for the promotion-chasing Teessiders, who are currently fifth in the Championship.
“The most important thing is that we now know we are capable of producing this kind of performance,” the Spaniard said.
“We played last Saturday against Brentford (a 4-0 home win) and played very well, and also against Cardiff (a 1-0 away victory).
“We are playing very well and if we continue playing in this way, we are going to be in a very good position in the table.
“But always we have to keep our feet on the ground.”
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, was in no doubt his side had put in a far-from-vintage performance, but the Reds manager – who made seven changes to his first XI from Saturday’s 3-1 league defeat at West Ham – thought there were certainly positives to take from the match.
Asked if he felt it had been something of a nightmare given the duration of the game, Rodgers said: “Not really, no.
“I think for the majority of the guys, they needed the game time. I was pleased with the minutes the players got.
“We had a similar situation when we played Notts County (in the Capital One Cup last season and won 4-2 after extra-time).
“We got through in the end, but it went into extra-time – and then we won the game the following weekend against Manchester United 1-0.
“This game has been good for our spirit and camaraderie in the group – to win like that.
“We are making too many mistakes. We made it hard for ourselves. But thankfully the quality and perseverance of the players got us through.”