CARDIFF manager Malky Mackay praised his players for the defiant manner of their display, despite their Carling Cup final defeat to Liverpool.

“The boys are disappointed but they have lost with dignity,” he said.

“We had belief we could win this game and to take one of the top teams in England to penalties makes me very proud of that group of players.”

Mackay reflected on the moment two minutes from the end of the game, when Kenny Miller (below) turned to shoot inside the Liverpool box but missed, as the point when he thought the cup was won. Instead, Cardiff had to drag themselves through an additional half hour, and the mentally draining pressure of penalties and now must pick themselves up for a Championship promotion fight.

Whilst it would be tempting to suggest Cardiff’s hopes may suffer as a direct result of yesterday’s disappointment, Mackay does not feel that is a fair assessment.

“Maybe if we had been beaten five or six, the question would have been valid,” he said. “As it is, I don’t think it is.

“We can take a lot of self-belief from getting to the final of a 92-club competition and taking a team at the top of the Premier League to penalties.

“We have 14 games to go and we are among 10 teams who can get into those play-off positions.

“We will patch up our squad and give it the best shot we have got from now until the end of the season.”