Leeds United head coach Garry Monk was proud of his players despite seeing the Whites’ Wembley dreams ended with a 2-0 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield.
Monk’s men created more chances than their Premier League opponents and defended well except for a 10 minute spell towards the end when Divock Origi and Ben Woodburn scored for Liverpool and Georginio Wijnaldum hit the post.
Leeds also hit the post through Kemar Roofe when it was still 0-0 while Hadi Sacko was unable to make the most of two great chances and Kyle Bartley, Chris Wood, Souleymane Doukara all went close.
“The team can be proud of what they did tonight,” said Leeds boss Monk.
“The ambition now is to have these types of games week in, week out.
“Our fans were incredible again, they could see how hard the players were trying.
“With a little bit more composure, we would have scored two or three goals tonight.
“We deserved more, if we carry on like that we can be successful.
“We had chances, I’m gutted for the team in the dressing room, because the team was superb tonight.
“We had a game plan, which we followed magnificently.”
Leeds showed that they had not travelled over the Pennines to make the numbers up from an early stage as they gave their hosts a quick fright.
With the clock showing less than three minutes, Stuart Dallas’s ball over the top freed winger Sacko, but he could only hit his shot straight at Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet.
Roofe was denied by Mignolet after getting a good shot in from 25 yards out before the home team created their first chance after taking advantage of sloppy play by United with Wijnaldum set up to send a volley goalwards only for Marco Silvestri to make a fine full stretch save.
Leeds were next to go close as Ronaldo Vieira saw his shot well blocked after latching onto a loose ball following a weak punch out from a corner by Mignolet.
They were forced to make a change when Eunan O’Kane limped off, to be replaced by Kalvin Phillips and the young midfielder’s bad pass led to Liverpool creating another opportunity just after the half-hour, Emre Can poking his shot just wide.
But Phillips went on to be one of United’s best players once he settled and together with fellow youngster Vieira in midfield could hold his head high after their first senior game at Anfield.
It was Phillips who almost scored just before the break when his shot from distance deflected wide off Lucas with the keeper beaten.
Leeds had to make another change for the start of the second period as Liam Cooper was injured and with Pontus Janssen missing the game through illness they had to bring on Luke Ayling, usually the right-back, but rested for this game.
They continued to defend solidly, however, and it was the Whites who looked more likely to break the deadlock. They were desperately unlucky when Phillips nipped in to win the ball and played it to Roofe, who, quick as a flash, hit a curling shot from the edge of the box that had Mignolet beaten all ends up only to bounce back off the woodwork.
Liverpool replied with a Can shot was deflected and easily saved by Silvestri, but United went close again when Bartley was unmarked as he met Charlie Taylor’s corner only to be unable to direct his header on target.
Leeds boss Garry Monk went for it with his third sub, Wood coming on for Dallas, and they had another sniff when Roofe’s low shot was saved at two attempts by Mignolet.
But Liverpool survived and then hit a hot spell in which they won the game.
First, Wijnaldum hit the post with an angled shot then Trent Alexander-Arnold’s clever cross was flicked into the net by Origi with Silvestri a little hesitant in not coming for the ball.
One-nil was harsh on Leeds, but 2-0 five minutes later was real injustice as the Reds scored again with Origi combining with Wijnaldum to give Ben Woodburn an easy chance to become Liverpool’s youngest ever goal scorer.
Still United created chances after this, roared on by their near 6,000 travelling fans. Wood had the ball in the net only to be correctly ruled offside from Doukara’s knock down then Sacko was through again onto Doukara’s great pass only to fire horribly off target.
Wood could only send a weak header straight at Mignolet and Phillips sent a free-kick over.
The last chance fell to Doukara, but his volley from Wood’s head on went wide and Leeds’ EFL Cup adventure was over.
United’s fans showed their appreciation of the team’s efforts as they applauded them off and there was no doubt that there were plenty of positives for everyone to take from the game.
(Origi 76, Woodburn 81)
Leeds United 0
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
EFL Cup quarter-final
Liverpool: Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Klavan, Lucas, Moreno, Stewart (Woodburn 66), Ejaria (Milner 81), Wijnaldum, Can, Mane, Origi (Grujic 90).
Leeds: Silvestri, Berardi, Cooper (Ayling 45), Bartley, Taylor, Vieira, O’Kane (Phillips 27), Sacko, Dallas (Wood 62), Roofe, Doukara.
Referee: Andre Marriner