League One Burton Albion are through to the Carabao Cup semi-finals for the first time in their history after shocking Championship side Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
Jake Hesketh drilled low beyond Darren Randolph from the edge of the area at the start of the second half to ensure Burton’s memorable run in the competition continues, with the Brewers now having overcome higher-ranked opposition in four of their five EFL Cup ties this season.
Burton are also the first team from the third tier to reach the semi-finals of the competition since Sheffield United, then managed by current Brewers boss Nigel Clough, in 2014-15.
Middlesbrough, who were bidding to reach the last four for the first time since they won the trophy in 2004, had a great chance to equalise late on but Aden Flint headed Marcus Tavernier’s cross wide from two yards.
Tony Pulis’ side began the brighter, with Burton goalkeeper Bradley Collins doing well to deny Lewis Wing before pushing away Stewart Downing’s 30-yard free-kick.
The visitors created little before Marcus Harness curled over the bar from eight yards seconds before the break. That proved to be a sign of things to come as Burton took the lead three minutes into the second half.
Scott Fraser fed Jamie Allen in the area and when his shot hit the post, Hesketh was alert on the rebound to drag the ball away from Muhamed Besic before drilling low into the corner.
Middlesbrough pressed for an equaliser but struggled to break down a Burton defence superbly marshalled by centre-backs Jake Buxton and John Brayford, with Flint heading their best opportunity wide with six minutes remaining.
The final whistle sparked scenes of jubilation on the Burton bench, with manager Clough running onto the pitch to celebrate with his players.
The Brewers were only promoted to the Football League nine years ago, but are now just 180 minutes from a Wembley final.
Giant-killers Burton at it again – the stats
- Burton have beaten the Championship’s Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough in round two, round four and the quarter-finals respectively, and Premier League Burnley in round three.
- Championship Middlesbrough managed just one shot in the second half, with that shot going off target.
- Burton’s Jake Hesketh has scored three goals in his four appearances in the EFL Cup.
Source BBC News