Tony Pulis hailed Lewis Wing’s “wonder goal” that saw Middlesbrough beat Premier League opponents Crystal Palace to reach the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.
Wing, making just his fifth start of the season, hit a swerving long-range effort beyond Vicente Guaita in first half stoppage-time to secure victory for Pulis against his former club.
Both managers made eight changes to their sides that resulted in a game lacking in both quality and clear-cut chances.
Andros Townsend came closest to equalising for Palace late on but his 25-yard shot was pushed away by goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos.
“The first-half performance was excellent and again we got into a lot of great positions and had opportunities,” said Pulis. “It takes a wonder goal from Wingy to give us that lead.
“He’s signed a new contract and I’m really pleased he’s with us. He’s got a long way to go and there’s things that he needs to improve on, but his enthusiasm to play and to want to play and to learn is first class. We’ve got to make sure we encourage that.”
The narrow win sends Middlesbrough to the quarter-finals for the third time in seven seasons, where they can look forward to a home tie against League One Burton.
Marcus Tavernier and Jordan Hugill went close for Boro before they took the lead in spectacular fashion in first-half stoppage-time.
There looked to be little on when Tavernier laid the ball off to Wing outside the area, but the midfielder took a touch and hit a long-range effort that swerved into the top corner.
Palace struggled to create many clear-cut openings against a well-drilled Middlesbrough side with the best defensive record in the Championship.
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson said the defeat represented a “missed opportunity” for his side but defended the decision to make eight changes from the team that drew against Arsenal on Sunday.
“Football today is a competition where you have a squad of players. We’ve had a fairly stable 11 this season and there were a lot of players there tonight who needed a game and they didn’t let me down in any shape or form,” he said.
Boro through to last eight – the stats
- Crystal Palace have now been eliminated from the League Cup by a side from a lower division than themselves in four of the last seven editions.
- Middlesbrough have eliminated a Premier League club from the League Cup for the first time since October 2015, when they beat Manchester United on penalties, also in the fourth round.
- Middlesbrough have now eliminated Crystal Palace in three of the four seasons they have met in the League Cup, only failing 2011-12.
- Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis has eliminated a Premier League club from the League Cup while managing a non-top flight team for the first time since November 1996 when his Gillingham side knocked out Coventry City in a third round replay.
- Middlesbrough’s Lewis Wing has been directly involved in four goals in his last six games in all competitions (one goal, three assists), as many as his previous 22 combined.