Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez felt his much-changed team were rewarded for their hard work after edging past Leeds 1-0 in the Carling Cup on Tuesday night.
The Premier League giants were given a scare by the League One leaders at an electric Elland Road before eventually settling the third-round tie with a second-half David Ngog goal. Leeds had a first-half goal disallowed and spurned a number of other opportunities before Ngog netted against the run of play with 65 minutes gone.
"We worked hard and I feel we had our chances," said Benitez, who made nine changes, brushing off suggestions that his team had ridden their luck.
"We won with a lot of players not playing and I am really pleased with my team, with the squad. These kind of games are very important to keep the quality of character. I think it was a fantastic win for us.
"I think we showed we can manage with different players and for the rest of the season it is important to know you have players who can come in."
Javier Mascherano was at the centre of one of the game's other talking points after catching Jermaine Beckford with his arm but neither manager made much of the incident. Benitez said the player "was turning around" while Leeds boss Simon Grayson also played it down.
Grayson said: "Mascherano had an arm that went and nicked Jermaine but sometimes they are not done for a reaction."
Grayson did feel his side were unlucky to have been denied a goal when Beckford's effort was ruled out for offside. Beckford was stopped short in his celebrations after turning in a goalbound header from Lubomir Michalik at close range after 11 minutes, with Luciano Becchio possibly the man given offside as he added an unnecessary extra touch on the line.
"I felt Jermaine was level with the centre-half for the goal but we are talking marginal errors at times," said Grayson. "I'm loathe to criticise but when you look he was level and the goal should have stood."
Grayson however was delighted with his players' performance which, in front of a lively 38,168 crowd, rekindled memories of Leeds' Premier League days, adding: "I'm hugely proud of them. I thought they were excellent from start to finish."
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