Billy Barr got the reaction he wanted from his side despite exiting the Premier League International Cup.

The Under-23s boss branded his side’s display in defeat against Manchester City last week as ‘terrible’ as they fell to defeat in the Premier League 2 clash.

Rovers were in cup action against Benfica B on Monday night and put in a much improved display, denied defeat by two late goals.

They had looked on course for victory when Jacob Davenport put them ahead on the hour, but the Portuguese side hit back with Daniel Arjos coming off the bench to score an 82nd minute equaliser, and then heading in the winner in the third minute of stoppage time.

Defeat to Benfica, and in their opening game against Hertha Berlin, means Rovers cannot qualify for the knockout stages, with one game against Newcastle United to play next month.

But proud of his side, Barr said: “More than happy with the application, the workrate, because we’d questioned that with the group.

“The stats showed us that we’d not been working as hard and that was back to something like how we want to perform.

“We were 30 seconds from taking the lead ourselves, we had to go gung-ho because we had to win the game.

“We got undone and I feel for the lads because they gave it a real good go.

“It was a difficult game, they had quite a bit of the ball but we grew in to the game and showed what we can do.”

Rovers had chances having gone 1-0 up, with Stefan Mols hitting the post, with Joe Rankin-Costello also seeing a shot saved.

“That’s the area we mentioned, those killer moments, that little bit of luck, it’s something we’ll look at because that’s one goal in three game,” Barr added.

“We need to be scoring more and there will be reasons why. We’ll go through some work on that before Friday’s game.”

The Under-23s entered the competition for the first time this year and were paired with German, Portuguese and English opposition.

Despite the results, Barr feels his side will have learned plenty from the two matches against overseas opposition.

He added: “It’s been a great experience, the first time I’ve been involved in the competition myself.

“You’re coming up against what I could call formed teams, 20 deep. We generally come together the day before the game.

“But credit to the lads. I was harsh with them after Friday’s game but I felt for them.”