Michael Beale hailed the spirit of his Liverpool U21s team following their dramatic 4-3 comeback win in the quarter-finals of the U21 Premier League Cup.
The young Reds came from behind twice to reach the semi-finals courtesy of an extra-time victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at Prenton Park on Sunday afternoon.
The visitors had took the lead early on only for Jose Enrique to level minutes later. Brighton then led 3-1 in the second half before Liverpool’s substitutes changed the complexion of the tie.
Ryan McLaughlin grabbed one back just minutes after coming on and Jerome Sinclair levelled up proceedings with his first touch to force extra-time.
The striker was then the hero as he netted the winner three minutes into extra-time to complete a remarkable turnaround.
Beale was pleased with the response from his charges, believing they had been unfortunate to find themselves behind at all.
He told Liverpoolfc.com: “It was a bit up and down. I thought they seemed to score every time they went forward which wasn't really in line with game.
“I thought we were playing quite well, we had the best players. It was just a case of the first goal being a sucker blow. We showed great character to come back.
“Brighton were playing the game slow and trying to kill the tie early so it was about staying calm.
“We felt we would have five or six opportunities in the [second] half and it's important that we put those words across because that's what actually happened and we managed to get ourselves back in it.
“Even at 3-1 [down] we thought if we got a goal then we would have gone on. It's interesting, it just seems at the club we're not doing anything the easy way!
“We're just relieved to get through. There was just a lot of good things in the performance but they just get marred by the 4-3. I just think if you would have played that game another 10 times then they wouldn't have scored three goals.”
The boss was also delighted with the performance of Northern Ireland international McLaughlin on the right wing.
The 21-year-old, who returned from a loan spell at Aberdeen in December, kick-started the comeback with his goal and had a helping hand in both of Sinclair’s strikes.
“He was outstanding,” Beale added. “Ryan has come back and been really unfortunate with injuries. We see, if we can keep him fit, what an impact he can have. We've got a lot of good wide players so it's competition for places there but Ryan has certainly shown he is ready and willing to go now.
“We've also got a really strong squad at the minute. He's scored with his first or second touch and then Jerome has come on and scored with his first touch as well.
“All of our goals were very similar, down the side and two-v-one's. We spoke about that before game so that's pleasing.
“I felt that we could have put the game to bed a lot easier. So it's one of them where we've almost got out of jail a little bit today.”