Wayne Rooney described himself as proud of his youthful Derby County side as they saw off Sky Bet League Two side Salford City to book their place in Round Two of the Carabao Cup.
Derby were 5-3 winners on penalties, after a 3-3 draw in normal time, in a thrilling cup clash under the floodlights at Pride Park Stadium.
The 35-year-old made eight changes to his side from Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Huddersfield Town in the Sky Bet Championship and as many as seven players to have come through the Academy ranks were named in the starting line-up.
Rooney’s side were two goals down inside the opening 14 minutes as Jordan Turnbull and Josh Morris struck for the visitors.
The Rams did however settle after that point and found their way back into the game, with their perseverance rewarded before half-time as midfielder Isaac Hutchinson’s low effort halved the deficit.
Derby pushed for an equaliser and got themselves back onto level terms with 19 minutes remaining as substitute Colin Kazim-Richards netted from the penalty spot after Festy Ebosele was fouled in the box.
Salford were awarded a penalty of their own a few minutes later, controversially after Craig Forsyth appeared to pull Luke Burgess down outside the box, with Morris netting his second of the game from 12 yards.
Derby responded again with Ravel Morrison lashing home a superb effort from the edge of the box to crown his debut, after signing as a free agent on Saturday, with a goal to take the game to penalties.
Graeme Shinnie, Colin Kazim-Richards, Jordan Brown, Craig Forsyth and Louie Watson all scored their spot-kicks, while Ryan Allsop made a save from Luke Burgess to send the Rams through to the next round.
Speaking to RamsTV after the game, Rooney said: “I am proud of the players.
“It was a shaky first 20 minutes to say the least, which I expected. Some of the young lads were playing in front of the crowd for the first time.
“From that difficult start, I felt like I watched the players grow. We got a goal back before half-time and we went in at half time feeling positive, which I felt was important and I challenged the players to go out to play the way they have been playing in pre-season and the things we have been working on.
“I wanted us to be brave on the ball, not to worry about anything else and do what we have been doing. I thought the players were excellent the second half and in the shoot-out we took some really good penalties.”
He added: “All the young lads were excellent and I am proud of them, I was proud of their performance tonight.”
The Rams boss is confident that the youngsters that featured will benefit from the experience in the long run.
He said: “I think this game will help them develop and they have got a taste of what first-team football is like.
“In some ways it couldn’t have ended in a better way in a penalty shootout. Louie Watson scored the winning penalty and it couldn’t have ended better.”
Derby will return to Sky Bet Championship action on Saturday when they head to last season’s League One runners-up Peterborough United (12:30pm kick-off).