Michael Carrick 'hugely proud' as Middlesbrough beat Chelsea in Carabao Cup semi-final

Michael Carrick thanks supporters after Middlesbrough's 1-0 win over Chelsea. Credit: PA

Middlesbrough head coach Michael Carrick has said he has never been prouder of his players after they beat Chelsea in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-finals.

The Teessiders shocked their Premier League opponents to emerge 1-0 winners at the Riverside as Hayden Hackney's first-half strike was enough to split the teams.

The club are now just 90 minutes away from reaching the final for the first time since winning the competition in 2004.

The result was one of the biggest of Carrick's short managerial career and the 42-year-old could not hide his pride at full-time.

Hayden Hackney's first half strike was enough to split the two sides. Credit: PA

"It’s as proud as I’ve been of the players," he said. “Knowing what they’ve put in and how close a group they are.

"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.”

The result will be celebrated on Teesside for some time but it is only half-time in the tie for Carrick's side. The club must avoid defeat at Stamford Bridge in two weeks time to progress to the final and can expect an attacking onslaught from Mauricio Pochettino's men.

Carrick admits his squad faces a huge challenge in the capital but should revel in the moment of their unexpected win.

Michael Carrick celebrates with Dan Barlaser after the full-time whistle. Credit: PA

“Listen, it’s very special," he said. “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.

“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.”

Middlesbrough now must switch their attention back to the Championship with key fixtures against Millwall and Rotherham before the second leg.

Middlesbrough must avoid defeat at Stamford Bridge to progress to the final. Credit: PA

Carrick has stressed his players will be ready for the encounter when it comes as his side get ready to fight on two fronts.

“It’s embracing it," he explained. “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 position that we find ourselves in.”

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