Michael Carrick praised Middlesbrough’s incredible spirit after an impressive 2-1 victory at Championship leaders Leicester ended a four-game winless run.

Boro completed a league double over the Foxes after Finn Azaz produced a cool finish into the top left corner from Lewis O’Brien’s square pass to break the deadlock in the 24th minute before Samuel Silvera powered home to double the lead eight minutes before half-time.

Despite Jamie Vardy finding the bottom left corner with five minutes left to play from Tom Cannon’s ball in behind, Boro held on to claim their first win at the King Power Stadium and inflict a first home defeat on the Foxes since November.

The visitors remain seven points off the play-off places and Carrick insists his side have plenty more to offer after securing just their second league victory since the turn of the year.

Carrick said: “The spirit and the will to win was there, tactically the boys understood it, the boys were so eager to carry it out, it’s not easy as we’ve taken a few hits lately, the spirit was incredible.

“I’m just happy the boys had something go their way for a change, they deserve it because they’re an unbelievable group to work with, it doesn’t surprise me.

“The players are happy without being overly happy which is good, they’re eager to bring on what’s next, there was almost a feeling we could have scored one or two more and made it a little bit easier, they had chances towards the end, but there’s a good sense that that is still not enough, we want some more.

“We played very similar to how we played at home against them, they put five across their top line, it was just different personnel and the boys did their specific jobs unbelievably well and I was really pleased they took that on board.”

Leicester missed a number of gilt-edged chances throughout as Jannik Vestergaard twice failed to hit the target from close range while substitute Vardy blazed over the bar shortly before he reduced the deficit.

The Foxes saw their eight-game unbeaten run at home come to an end although Leicester boss Enzo Maresca was pleased his side kept fighting until the final whistle despite lacking quality in the final third.

Maresca said: “It was just one of those days you have to drop points, we created many chances before their goal, we pushed until the end and tried until the end and that’s the most important thing.

“Even playing a different way we created a lot of chances, we tried to adjust and adapt, we lost a little bit of balance after we conceded the first goal and we conceded some counter attacks which we need to avoid.

“We missed the last pass, even with these things that we need to improve, we had many chances that we missed, we were close, it’s part of our season, we can’t think we’re going to win every game.

“We have 13 games, we need to win some more games to reach our target, it’s not easy, you can drop points every game in the Championship, from now on all the games are important, we didn’t drop in terms of commitment, it was a lack of quality in the last third.”

Mauricio Pochettino said he is desperate to win the Carabao Cup in his first season at Chelsea after watching his team sweep aside Middlesbrough 6-1 to reach next month’s final at Wembley.

Stamford Bridge has suffered from a quiet atmosphere in recent months, often exacerbated by Chelsea failing to break teams down early, but a repeat here never looked like being a risk as they booked a meeting with either Liverpool or Fulham on February 25.

“I’m desperate to win a trophy here,” said Pochettino. “We won in three trophies in one and a half years at Paris (St Germain) and we want to win here.

“I’m desperate to win. That is the headline.

“It’s really important for us, we’re going to have Fulham or Liverpool, two amazing teams, it will be difficult. But now is the moment to believe we can win.”

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg at the Riverside Stadium, the hosts tore into their Championship opponents and banished memories of a chastening loss on Teesside.

Boro’s captain Jonny Howson inadvertently got the ball rolling by diverting past his own goalkeeper after 15 minutes, though Armando Broja was poised to tap home had the defender not intervened.

From there on, Chelsea steamrollered Michael Carrick’s side. Enzo Fernandez scored after being set up by good link-up play from Axel Disasi and the excellent Raheem Sterling, then Sterling feeding the surging Disasi to sweep home the third.

Boro caused problems for themselves trying to play out from the back, the match-winner from the first leg Hayden Hackney losing possession and gifting Cole Palmer Chelsea’s fourth before half-time.

Palmer, the top scorer for Pochettino’s side since his move from Manchester City, made it five late on before substitute Noni Madueke curled home via a deflection.

Morgan Rogers’ goal was greeted with a roar from travelling fans who had long since their Wembley dream slip away.

Pochettino added: “Now we need to prepare for Friday against Aston Villa (in the FA Cup), but this is an important step for us. The confidence and the belief in ourselves is so important.

“That is going to help because of the motivation. Players who are so close to coming back (from injury) – tomorrow, maybe a few injured players will want to come for training, seeing that the final is close.”

Boro manager Carrick reflected on a tie that ultimately proved too great a hurdle for his side despite heroics on Teesside two weeks ago.

“(The players) will learn from that after they have gotten over the disappointment,” he said.

“We had a big night at the Riverside where we managed to beat a really good Chelsea team. We just couldn’t get it done here unfortunately.”

Mauricio Pochettino said he is desperate to win the Carabao Cup in his first season at Chelsea after watching his team sweep aside Middlesbrough 6-1 to reach next month’s final at Wembley.

Stamford Bridge has suffered from a quiet atmosphere in recent months, often exacerbated by Chelsea failing to break teams down early, but a repeat here never looked like being a risk as they booked a meeting with either Liverpool or Fulham on February 25.

“I’m desperate to win a trophy here,” said Pochettino. “We won in three trophies in one and a half years at Paris (St Germain) and we want to win here.

“I’m desperate to win. That is the headline.

“It’s really important for us, we’re going to have Fulham or Liverpool, two amazing teams, it will be difficult. But now is the moment to believe we can win.”

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg at the Riverside Stadium, the hosts tore into their Championship opponents and banished memories of a chastening loss on Teesside.

Boro’s captain Jonny Howson inadvertently got the ball rolling by diverting past his own goalkeeper after 15 minutes, though Armando Broja was poised to tap home had the defender not intervened.

From there on, Chelsea steamrollered Michael Carrick’s side. Enzo Fernandez scored after being set up by good link-up play from Axel Disasi and the excellent Raheem Sterling, then Sterling feeding the surging Disasi to sweep home the third.

Boro caused problems for themselves trying to play out from the back, the match-winner from the first leg Hayden Hackney losing possession and gifting Cole Palmer Chelsea’s fourth before half-time.

Palmer, the top scorer for Pochettino’s side since his move from Manchester City, made it five late on before substitute Noni Madueke curled home via a deflection.

Morgan Rogers’ goal was greeted with a roar from travelling fans who had long since their Wembley dream slip away.

Pochettino added: “Now we need to prepare for Friday against Aston Villa (in the FA Cup), but this is an important step for us. The confidence and the belief in ourselves is so important.

“That is going to help because of the motivation. Players who are so close to coming back (from injury) – tomorrow, maybe a few injured players will want to come for training, seeing that the final is close.”

Boro manager Carrick reflected on a tie that ultimately proved too great a hurdle for his side despite heroics on Teesside two weeks ago.

“(The players) will learn from that after they have gotten over the disappointment,” he said.

“We had a big night at the Riverside where we managed to beat a really good Chelsea team. We just couldn’t get it done here unfortunately.”

Michael Carrick could not understand why the officials made the two “massive” offside decisions they did as Middlesbrough came from behind to claim a point from a 1-1 draw with Rotherham.

The Millers had taken a 59th-minute lead when Cafu finished brilliantly after he was played in behind the defence by former Boro striker Jordan Hugill – despite Carrick’s claims the striker was offside in the build-up.

But Rotherham’s hopes of a first away win since November 2022 were dashed when Marcus Forss equalised with eight minutes remaining.

Boro could also have won it when Josh Coburn turned in at the end, only for the officials to blow for offside because Matt Crooks attempted to go for the ball at the near post first.

Carrick said: “It’s disappointing because we have had two games against them now and came away with a point. It’s difficult to understand but credit to them for making things difficult.

“There were bright moments, some good football in the game, but the second half was stop-start, free-kicks, throw-ins, not a real flow in the game, so it was difficult to get going.

“Credit to the boys, it wasn’t easy. We finished strong and we scored a perfectly good goal to win 2-1. You always find a way to take a positive. It could have been more frustrating as the game went on, they never gave up.

“The story of the game for me is that their goal is offside. Hugill is offside in build up, right in front of the linesman. Crooks is onside at the end. Key moments.

“I was shouting for offside in build up to their goal, the officials didn’t flinch, and led to a goal from nowhere. Two massive decisions.”

Morgan Rogers, reportedly the subject of bids from Aston Villa this week, cleverly flicked into the path of Forss for the equaliser.

Carrick, who revealed Isaiah Jones faces a battle to be fit to face Chelsea in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final after going off with a hamstring problem, added: “It is that funny season, there’s rumours and speculation. Morgan played well, there’s nothing from my point of view on that one.

“There is no reason (not to play him)… he is our player and a massive part of the group. Speculation is speculation. You get on with the job. This is what we do. I’m only interested in the players I have got to choose from.”

Middlesbrough are three points behind sixth-placed Coventry and remain in the hunt for promotion.

Rotherham, who have only won one of their last 16 matches, are eight points shy of safety.

Head coach Leam Richardson, who took over before Christmas, said: “I feel a little bit pleased with our structure, the competitive nature and the account we have given of ourselves.

“I’m also mindful of the quality of the opposition and the environment we are playing in.

“We have to play a certain way to get the best out of the players we have. Everyone adapts slightly with the opposition, and credit to the players for the output they have given against a team pushing for the play-offs, and in a cup semi-final.

“When it goes so late you are disappointed. After the game your emotions can take you either way and I am a manager-coach who likes to look back and evolve.

“The goal was avoidable, they all are. We probably could have been more mindful late on in possession.

“If we work as hard as we can and the lads have given full attention since I arrived in the building, we are not blessed with facilities, so we have been adapting, learning different things, and if we keep performing like that I believe we will give ourselves a better fighting chance. We might as well give it a go rather than roll over.”

Michael Carrick admitted Middlesbrough’s bench made the difference after they came from a goal behind beat Millwall 3-1 at The Den in the Sky Bet Championship.

Carrick’s Boro were on a high after Tuesday’s 1-0 Carabao Cup semi-final first leg victory over Chelsea and rounded off an impressive week with victory over another London side.

Joe Bryan opened the scoring for the hosts before strikes from Lukas Engel, Isaiah Jones and substitute Marcus Forss turned things around.

Matt Crooks also came off the bench to have a positive impact in the second half.

Carrick said: “We knew it was going to be a challenge but we found our way the longer the game went, I’m delighted for the boys.

“We showed good spirit and quality and the bench made the difference for us, which we missed for a period of time.

“I thought the squad felt strong today and it can get stronger. We have a good group.

“Marcus (Forss) has worked hard for a period of time now and it’s a big goal for him and for us.”

Millwall struggled to replicate their dominant first half display and lost their way in the second 45.

Manager Joe Edwards highlighted his team’s injuries and agreed that Boro’s squad depth played a part on the day.

He added: “We felt that today (Boro’s depth). I’ve felt it in other games as well.

“I remember being stood down there when we were hanging on to a 1-0 lead against Norwich and when I saw the subs they were bringing on I thought ‘wow, that’s some impact and it will now get harder in the final 20 to 30 minutes.’

“That’s something I felt today.

“There’s a group of around seven of our players in their tracksuits today who are unable to play and that hurts us.”

Edwards struggled to hide his disappointment after the Lions failed to make it four successive league wins.

He said: “It’s disappointing. The goals they scored were soft and the bottom line is if you are playing a team at that level and dominate as much as we did in the first half an hour we needed to cash in and get that second goal.”

Middlesbrough conceded early but battled back strongly to win 3-1 win at Millwall in the Sky Bet Championship.

Michael Carrick’s Reds, who beat Premier League Chelsea in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, claimed another London scalp on Saturday.

Joe Bryan opened the scoring for the home side at The Den but goals from Lukas Engel, Isaiah Jones and Marcus Forss turned things around in favour of the Teessiders.

Millwall took a deserved 10th-minute lead, as the visitors cracked under early pressure.

Ryan Longman’s cross was cleared but only into the path of Bryan, who guided his effort into the bottom right corner from outside the box.

The Lions came close to doubling their lead five minutes later. Bryan turned creator and whipped a dangerous cross into the six-yard box, with centre-back Jake Cooper’s first-time effort clipping the bar.

Boro spent large parts of the first half on the back foot but they managed to break forward and equalise seven minutes before the interval.

Jones, whose positive form carried on after his impressive display against Chelsea, threaded a pass to Sam Greenwood. The on-loan Leeds player found the Engel with a low cross and the unmarked Dane levelled with a  close-range finish.

The visitors took the lead in the 58th minute after Bryan misjudged heading a high ball, with pacey former Tooting & Mitcham player Jones advancing and coolly finished past Matija Sarkic.

Millwall sought a way back into the game but failed to replicate their dominance of the early stages and played slow passes around the back, much to the frustration of animated manager Joe Edwards.

The visitors turned the screw and looked the most likely to score again.

Substitute Matt Crooks showed quick feet, turning his man in midfield before unleashing debutant Luke Ayling down the right.

The former Leeds right-back produced an excellent pass for Morgan Rogers,  who failed to connect properly.

However, the points were sealed in added time when Forss scored as the visitors moved into the top half.

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick has told his players to embrace the challenge of walking into the lion’s den at Chelsea with a place in the Carabao Cup final at stake.

Boro head coach Carrick saw his team secure a 1-0 first-leg lead at the Riverside Stadium on Wednesday evening, which will send them to Stamford Bridge on January 23 with something to defend.

The Sky Bet Championship promotion hopefuls had to endure a tide of pressure on their own pitch to emerge with a clean sheet, and they can expect an onslaught on a night when a repeat would send them to Wembley.

 

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However Carrick, whose side lost 1-0 to Chelsea’s Premier League counterparts Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round at the weekend, said: “It’s embracing it.

“The last two games the boys have coped very, very well with Villa at the weekend and tonight, this being different because it’s obviously a lot further on in the competition and there was much more of an opportunity in this one with the expectations, the hope, the challenge that they faced.

“I couldn’t have hoped or asked for anything more. I keep saying the next one is a totally different one, it’s a new challenge totally.

“The boys will be ready for it and we’ll be ready to perform. We’ll look forward to it and embrace the challenge because it’s an unbelievable challenge and position that we find ourselves in.”

Hackney’s 37th-minute strike, which came after Isaiah Jones had made the most of Dan Barlaser’s fine through ball, ultimately settled a game in which Mauricio Pochettino’s expensively-assembled side dominated possession, but failed to make the most of the chances they created with Cole Palmer passing up no fewer than three himself.

Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo alone cost in excess of £220million, but along with Conor Gallagher, got little change out of a Boro midfield of Hackney, Barlaser and Jonny Howson to leave Carrick purring.

Asked if it was his best night yet as a manager, the 42-year-old former Manchester United and England midfielder said: !It’s as proud as I’ve been, I have to say again, of the players.

“Knowing what they’ve put in and how close a group they are and seeing the stadium supporting the lads right to the end when they needed that bit of help for the last 10 minutes or so, standing there and seeing that made me hugely proud, so it was a good night for that, a really good night for that and hopefully we can create some more of them in the future.”

Pochettino was measured after a disappointing night on Teesside, during which he admitted the Blues had been punished both for their mistakes and their profligacy in front of goal.

The Argentinian said: “I am disappointed because I think we deserved a different result, but sometimes you don’t play well and you win.

“For us, it’s like we need to play well, we need to score goals. We play well, but sometimes we are not clinical enough and sometimes we are punished. That is the process in this moment we are in.

“Always when you are building a team, this kind of scenario is tough because you not only need to play well, but you need to deserve and have some luck.”

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick believes his side had to “suffer” to earn a 1-0 win against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-finals.

Hayden Hackney capitalised on missed Chelsea chances, scoring in the 37th minute to hand Boro a valuable advantage going into the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge on January 23.

His goal came after already-depleted Boro were forced into two early changes, with Emmanuel Latte Lath and Alex Bangura taken off with injury in the opening 20 minutes.

They defended well to ensure they are now one leg away from the final of the competition they won back in 2004 and Carrick urged his side to enjoy the victory.

He said post-match: “Listen, it’s very special.

“There’s totally two sides to this one: there’s the game tonight and what we had to go through and suffer a little bit to find a way to win, and there’s obviously the fact that there’s another game.

“I have to credit the players and celebrate their performance and effort, because it’s not easy at all to beat a team like that with the quality that they’ve got and to suffer the kind of injuries that we had as well early on – as if we didn’t have enough injuries to start with.

“Tonight was a really special night, the atmosphere, Hayden scoring, it was such a good night for us, so we’ve got to take that as a one-off and enjoy that to be honest. The second leg is a whole new ball game and we know what we’re walking into and he challenges we face.”

Dan Barlaser’s long pass played Isaiah Jones in behind Levi Colwill to cross into Hackney, who stuck out a leg to stab past Djordje Petrovic.

Carrick said: “Honestly, it couldn’t happen to a nicer lad.

“He’s everything we could ever hope for in a player – he’s humble, he’s hard-working, he’s hugely talented, obviously, and great to work with.”

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino believes his side were “not clinical enough” as they wasted a trio of brilliant chances in the first half.

Cole Palmer fired wide just before Hackney put Boro ahead then had two more chances, firing over the bar after Tom Glover spilled Enzo Fernandez’s effort before failing to beat the keeper after cutting in from the right.

Pochettino said: “I think we made some mistakes in the first half and we were punished for that.

“We created big chances and we didn’t score, we were not clinical enough, that is so clear.

“We have to credit of course Middlesbrough, it’s the first 90 minutes in the first half of the tie.

“We are losing 1-0 but in two weeks we are going to have the second tie and we need to be positive we can win the game and go to the final.”

Pochettino also refuted suggestions Chelsea players had been booed off the pitch by their visiting fans.

“The fans were reacting with the fans, with Middlesbrough fans, not with our players,” he added.

“Our fans were fantastic as they support us but I think it was Thiago (Silva) and some players, what I hear is they were trying to calm our fans because I think there was a problem between the fans, not between our fans and our players.”

Chelsea striker Cole Palmer squandered a hat-trick of chances as Hayden Hackney handed Sky Bet Championship Middlesbrough a priceless first-leg lead in their Carabao Cup semi-final.

The England international, who had earlier been denied by Boro keeper Tom Glover, passed up three opportunities either side of Hackney’s 37th-minute strike, which ensured Michael Carrick’s men will head for Stamford Bridge in a fortnight’s time with a 1-0 lead.

On a night when the 2004 winners managed to frustrate the side who beat them in the 1998 final for long periods, the big-spending Premier League club failed to find top gear despite boss Mauricio Pochettino naming Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill, Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo, Conor Gallagher, Raheem Sterling and Palmer in a strong starting line-up.

For their part, the Teessiders were organised, dogged and a threat on the break, and reaped the rewards three days after suffering a heartbreaking late defeat by top-flight Aston Villa in the FA Cup.

The visitors’ goal came under threat within seconds of kick-off when Colwill’s poorly-directed header delivered the ball straight into the path of Emmanuel Latte Lath, although the striker scuffed his shot straight at keeper Djordje Petrovic as defender Axel Disasi tried desperately to close him down and caught him in his follow-through.

The Boro frontman struggled on after treatment, but eventually limped off to be replaced by Josh Coburn with just five minutes gone.

Palmer forced Glover into a full-length save as Chelsea responded, but with widemen Isaiah Jones and Alex Bangura – whose evening was ended prematurely minutes later by a hamstring injury – enjoying the space afforded to them, the Teessiders made early inroads.

The occasional flurry from Noni Madueke aside, neither team was able to create a chance of note until Colwill headed over from Palmer’s 29th-minute cross, but Jonny Howson was fortunate to get away with a dreadful crossfield pass which put Palmer in on goal two minutes later, only for the 21-year-old to drag his shot wastefully wide.

Chelsea were made to pay with eight minutes of the first half remaining when Dan Barlaser played Jones in behind Colwill and he crossed to Hackney at the near post to stab past Petrovic.

Palmer had two glorious opportunities to level in stoppage time when he spooned the ball over the top after Glover had spilled Enzo Fernandez’s shot from distance, and then failed to beat the keeper after cutting inside from the right.

The visitors remained patient on their return but largely played in front of Boro, who looked comfortable in their shape as they protected a precious advantage with little fuss.

Madueke headed straight at Glover from Fernandez’s 53rd-minute cross and then flashed the ball dangerously across goal after worming his way in from the right, and Gallagher fired wide on the turn eight minutes later amid relentless pressure.

Mykhailo Mudryk and Armando Broja were introduced with little sign of an equaliser imminent and after Barlaser had shot high and wide from a pacy counter-attack, Glover needed two attempts to collect Mudryk’s 73rd-minute attempt.

However, that was as good as it got for Pochettino’s misfiring side, who have work to do on home soil in the deciding leg.

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick is hopeful his side can take the “positive experiences” from their FA Cup third-round loss into their Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea.

Boro were knocked out of the FA Cup by Matty Cash’s late strike in the 87th minute, which took a deflection into the bottom corner.

However, Boro’s attention quickly turns to the Carabao Cup, where they come up against Premier League Chelsea at the Riverside on Tuesday and Carrick hopes his players can take inspiration from their performance against Aston Villa.

He said post-match: “The boys are disappointed, which is good that they’re disappointed.

“It’s not an acceptance of ‘we’ve got beat’, it shows to me, more importantly, how much they felt they were right in the game. That’ll help us.

“We’ve got a lot of young boys in there that are learning, developing and experiences like that and the positive experiences we’ll take from it are no end for Tuesday hopefully and to the end of the season.”

Two games against Chelsea stand in the way of Boro reaching the final of the Carabao Cup, which they won in 2004, and Carrick insists his side are already relishing the test against the Blues.

“I won’t have to lift them (for the Chelsea match),” he added.

“It’s a huge game for us obviously, for each individual it’s a massive game, but for us collectively it’s a massive game.

“There won’t be any issues with recovery or motivation, my job’s already done for that one, they’ve done it themselves by getting into a semi-final.

“It’s a different game completely in terms of tactically and the dangers Chelsea have got, we’ll obviously have to adapt and look forward to that.

“They’re dangerous, at any point they can change a game, we know that.”

The 1-0 victory on Saturday night saw Aston Villa break their poor FA Cup run to progress to the fourth round for the first time since 2016.

Their best chances came from a succession of corners in the second half where goalkeeper Tom Glover pulled off an excellent save to deny John McGinn before Ezri Konsa’s header smashed off the inside of the post and Alex Moreno blasted the ball over the bar from close range.

The winning moment fell to Cash who struck from outside of the box to beat Glover and he revealed it was something he had worked on in training.

He told VillaTV: “I think I’ve worked closely on it in training, out of the box shooting and trying to keep the ball on target, and that’s all you can do.

“Obviously got a lucky deflection but I’m delighted it’s gone in, I’m really happy to get a goal.

“Since I’ve been here I haven’t progressed through to the next round, we made it clear before the game we wanted to do that and we’re obviously delighted to get into the fourth round.”

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick hailed the “unbelievable” spirit of his players after the 2-1 victory over Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Both sides missed easy chances in the first period, with Boro’s Isaiah Jones miskicking the ball two yards in front of an open net before Town’s Josh Koroma crashed off the crossbar after rounding the goalkeeper.

Second-half substitute Josh Coburn lifted over Jacob Chapman to put Boro in front but the home side were not behind for long as Michal Helik’s strike from the edge of the box made it 1-1.

Boro had the chance to win it late on from the penalty spot but Jonny Howson saw it saved by Chapman only for him to redeem himself and net the winner moments later.

Carrick said: “It’s not the perfect way or ideal way to go about it but sometimes you have got to find a way.

“The spirit is unbelievable in the group with the staff and backroom staff. It’s an effort from everywhere, a lot of clubs have injuries as well, it’s something you have to deal with and accept to a point.

“As we are in the league now, come the end of the year with everything to play for in the cup so there is a lot to be pleased about but still a lot of work to do for sure.”

Carrick was happy to see Howson net the winner just a minute after his spot-kick was saved.

He added: “It was a hell of a save to be fair from the goalkeeper, sometimes there are good penalties and bad penalties but it’s a hell of a save.

“You can see the emotion on Jonny’s face, what it meant to him and to everyone and celebrations were ramped up by the fact he missed the penalty.

“Sometimes it’s quite nice to win like that, really digging and fighting and Jonny showed that moment. It was one of those games that didn’t really come easy for us really.

“It was a slog, a grind, bit chaotic with chances at both ends and I said at half-time ‘if it is going to be one of them games then make sure we win the battle’.

“To be fair to the boys they all chipped in in different ways and I’m delighted with the result.”

Huddersfield boss Darren Moore felt his side did not deserve to lose.

He said: “I said to the boys to keep their heads up really because what’s doing Huddersfield is small lapses of concentration but credit to the players for the performance.

“It’s fine margins that split the difference and that’s what’s done us in the end tonight really. I’m encouraged because the performances are there so the results won’t be too far away.

“It’s a hard one to take but we have to take the positives from the game and take it forward.”

Boss Michael Carrick has urged Middlesbrough to seize their chance after reaching the Carabao Cup semi-finals.

Jonny Howson, Morgan Rogers and Matt Crooks eased them into the last four with a 3-0 win at Port Vale.

The Championship side reached a major domestic semi-final for the first time in 17 years, since losing to West Ham in the last four of the FA Cup in 2006.

An injury-hit Boro made light work of their League One hosts to avoid an upset and are the only EFL team left in the last four.

Carrick said: “Sometimes in your career there are times and you have to make the most of the opportunity when it comes your way.

“When the door opens you have to run through it and the boys certainly sprinted through it.

“We’re not stupid. We know whoever’s left in the draw probably wants to play us and see it as a chance to get to Wembley.

“It’s a hell of an opportunity. It’s about us and what we can achieve. You’re in a semi-final and it’s motivation and inspiration itself.

“It was a fantastic attitude and mentality. We’re decimated in terms of numbers in the squad but it’s part of the journey and we’re enjoying it.

“We’re in the semi-final and who would have thought it, it’s a great thing to look forward to. Who knows what will happen next, we’ll see who we get.”

Howson opened the scoring after 11 minutes when his 25-yard strike clipped Jason Lowe and looped in over Connor Ripley.

Vale, who demonstrated plenty of endeavour, tried to recover but fell further behind after 23 minutes when Sam Silvera crossed for Rogers to find the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Gavin Massey lifted Vale’s best chance over from close range and Crooks wrapped up the victory eight minutes into the second half, bullying his way through and finding the bottom corner.

The hosts lost Oliver Arblaster to a serious leg injury and boss Andy Crosby admitted they were second best.

He said: “We are trying to play in a way in our own league, with control and counter pressing but as soon as there was space on the transition you could see the difference between the players.

“They executed the finishes well, maybe got a bit of luck with the first which took a deflection over Connor but they deserved to win the game and hopefully they can progress in the semi-final.

“Ollie has a really bad gash around his knee, it’s gone right through to the bone and he’s gone to hospital. He has been so good for us and he’s our number one concern.”

Proud Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick hailed his players for executing their game plan to perfection in a “big win” over Championship leaders Leicester.

Boro usually play possession football but had to change their approach for the visit of the Foxes, who dominated the ball at the Riverside but failed to find a breakthrough against Carrick’s stubborn and organised side.

And after frustrating Enzo Maresca’s visitors, Boro snatched the win late on thanks to Sam Greenwood’s moment of magic. The Leeds loanee scored his fourth goal in six games with a stunning free-kick.

“It was a big win,” said delighted Carrick. “They are a really good team and we knew that.

“Individually, collectively, how they’re coached, they’re a very good team and it’s not an accident that they are where they are in the league.

“We showed a different side to ourselves today with a lot of the out-of-possession work. It was really good pressing and really good defensively. They test you, you have to close certain spaces for the whole game, you have to concentrate for the whole game and that was a major factor.

“The boys got the game plan off to a tee and actually, the few chances we did give away were from us giving the ball away, which we don’t normally do. That’s one of those things though.

“It was an immense effort and I’m so proud of the boys.”

Greenwood is proving himself to be a key player for Middlesbrough and Carrick said of his match winner: “I kind of had a feeling as he stepped up, I fancied him because it looked like it was set up just at the right spot for him.

“It’s a hell of a free-kick. There are not many people who can pull that off, but he’s got that in his locker consistently. It’s a real threat and a real weapon for us.”

Despite a second successive Championship defeat, with Ipswich now level on points, Leicester boss Maresca was not overly concerned and said his players paid the price for missed chances.

Jannik Vestergaard went close in the first half but was denied by a brilliant save from Seny Dieng, before City tried to turn the screw after the break. The closest they came to breaking the deadlock was when Kelechi Iheanacho hit a post 10 minutes from time, before Greenwood claimed the winner three minutes later.

Maresca said: “I think I have been quite clear, we created many chances and many situations where we should score but when you miss, miss, miss and they score a fantastic goal, that’s football.

“It’s a moment where you create but don’t take your chance and the opposite, they score a fantastic goal. It is what it is.

“To be honest I thought we were in control of the game, created five or six clear chances and many situations where we missed the last pass. The players are annoyed because we lost and it’s normal to be like that.”

Leicester will be without Harry Winks for their first game back after the international break against Watford after the midfielder picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.

Maresca said: “For sure Harry will be a big miss but for many games he’s been waiting for one more yellow.”

Championship leaders Leicester suffered their second successive 1-0 defeat after Sam Greenwood settled a tight game with a late stunner to send Middlesbrough into the international break on a high.

Enzo Maresca’s side lost to Leeds last week and Greenwood – on loan at Boro from Elland Road – hit a brilliant free-kick seven minutes from time to lift Michael Carrick’s Boro up to 10th in the table, just two points outside the top six.

Leicester are now only top on goal difference following Ipswich’s win over Swansea.

The Foxes had looked the more likely winners for long spells at the Riverside but could not force a way through Middlesbrough’s organised backline.

There was not much to separate the sides in a hard-fought first half, with both keepers making brilliant saves.

Leicester dominated possession in the opening stages but it was Boro who created the better of the early chances, with Josh Coburn – who bagged a brace in last week’s 3-3 draw at Plymouth – twice going close.

Although the home side did a good job of restricting Leicester, the Foxes did have two good first-half opportunities to break the deadlock.

Maresca’s side were almost gifted an opener when Isaiah Jones’ attempted backpass was intercepted by Kelechi Iheanacho, who stung the hands of home goalkeeper Seny Dieng.

And just after the half-hour mark, Dieng again denied the leaders, making a superb one-handed save to keep out Jannik Vestergaard’s header after a corner from the left.

In the dying seconds of the opening period, it was the turn of Leicester keeper Mads Hermansen. First he got down to his left to tip a low Matt Crooks shot around a post. And from the resulting corner, he clawed out a Dael Fry header that looked destined for the top corner.

Leicester tried to turn the screw in the second half and substitute Abdul Fatawu bounced over a volley from close in after good work down the left from Stephy Mavididi.

Mavididi then had a chance of his own but dragged his left-footed shot wide of the far post, before Iheanacho was gifted an opportunity after a Dieng mistake, only for the keeper to make amends with a fine stop.

Iheanacho beat Dieng with his next chance with just over 10 minutes to play, only to see his delicate chip bounce back off the near post. And moments later, against the run of play, Boro scored what proved to be the winner.

There was initially some anger inside the Riverside when referee Oliver Langford pulled back play for a foul on Greenwood instead of playing the advantage with the home side in the attack and with men over.

But Greenwood lifted himself off the deck to curl home a beautiful free-kick into Hermansen’s top corner.

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick praised his side as they overcame spirited Exeter to win a cracking Carabao Cup fourth round clash at St James Park 3-2.

League One Exeter took a shock lead with a stunning Ryan Trevitt strike but two goals in quick succession from Morgan Rogers and Sammy Silvera turned the tie on its head at the start of the second half.

Trevitt levelled things up with another brilliant long-range strike but went from hero to villain as his needless shirt pull on Rogers inside the penalty box allowed Emmanuel Latte Lath to settle a pulsating clash in the Championship side’s favour from the spot eight minutes from time.

“It’s kind of what you come to expect with games like this, there was obviously a lot to play for and a lot at stake,” Carrick said.

“I thought we started all right and we had a lot of the ball. We played OK without really looking dangerous, but we had enough of the ball and then they scored an unbelievable strike from nowhere and it gave them a lot in the game then to hold on to.

“In the second half I thought we took it up a level, the spaces started to open up, which we exploited, and we scored some really good goals, so I am delighted to be through.

“I am delighted for the travelling supporters – 1,000 came down on a Tuesday night, which is absolutely amazing – and I am delighted the goals were in front of them, so they could celebrate.

“We made a few changes to the team and it is not always easy to click straight away, so we were calm at half-time and just said to keep believing, keep penetrating the spaces and playing positively and they did that.

“There were some terrific goals as well, we probably could have had more but it was a good tie for the neutral with plenty of good goals as well.”

Exeter were aiming to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history and manager Gary Caldwell cut a proud but frustrated figure at full-time.

“It was a brilliant performance, loads of effort and endeavour,” he said. “We got asked serious questions against a top side, a potential Premier League side, next season.

“It wasn’t for the want of trying we went out of the Cup. All credit to the players, they gave everything and we got beaten by the better team tonight. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up to that and we wish them well in the next round.

“It was a brilliant atmosphere in the stadium right from kick-off, the players took that on board and we had a clear game plan.

“It was a poor start to the second half but a great reaction and Trevitt scored an amazing goal and, at that point, it was game on and it was a proper cup tie. But a soft penalty decides it.”

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