Liverpool 2-2 Cardiff City (Liverpool win 3-2 on penalties)
Carling Cup Final 2012
26 Feb 2012 - 4:00 PM
The League Cup Final
4pm, Sunday 26 February 2012
You always thought it would be Gerrard who ended Liverpool's six-year wait for a trophy but nobody could have predicted it would be Anthony rather than Steven who did it.
The Cardiff player, cousin of Liverpool's captain, missed the all-important penalty in a dramatic shoot-out at Wembley that saw Liverpool lift the League Cup at Wembley and win a major trophy for the first time in six years.
It was a heartbreaking end to an incredible final for Cardiff who had been outstanding all match, going ahead 1-0 early on and then equalising in dramatic fashion late in extra time to force a penalty shoot-out.
England man Steve rushed to console his cousin at the final whistle, especially as he too had missed in the shoot out - as had Charlie Adam, Kenny Miller and Rudy Gestede.
But in the end Liverpool, who scored through Martin Skrtel and substitute Dirk Kuyt, ended Cardiff's dream of winning a major trophy for the first time since The FA Cup of 1927 - even though Joe Mason and Ben Turner scored for the Welsman.
Championship side Cardiff in fact were outstanding. They more than held their own in an entertaining first half in which Liverpool started smartly, hitting the bar with a curling right-foot shot from England full-back Glen Johnson after just two minutes.
But the Bluebirds survived early pressure, which also saw Andy Carroll have a header well saved by Tom Heaton following a cute cross from Luis Suarez, to stun their opponents in the 20th minute.
Kenny Miller played Republic of Ireland Under-21 midfielder Joe Mason through with a wonderful pass and the 20-year-old finished the move with a cool finish past Pepe Reina.
Liverpool's response became increasingly frantic as half-time loomed, Gerrard firing over the bar as the ball ricocheted around the Cardiff box. But the Welsh side reached 45 minutes still ahead and almost doubled their lead through Miller, who shot narrowly wide after the break following an impressive move on the break.
Liverpool brought on Welshman Craig Bellamy - to cheers from both sets of supporters - in a bid to find an equaliser and his arrival certainly lifted Kenny Dalglish's side.
Within minutes they equalised through defender Martin Skrtel from a 60th minute corner. Carroll played a part, knocking on Stewart Downing's cross before Suarez's close-range header came back off a post for Skrtel to drill home.
Downing almost put his side ahead in the 78th minute with a left-foot shot on the turn that was well saved by Heaton while Ben Turner came agonisingly close with a header for Cardiff.
But it was Miller who came closest to winning it for the Welshmen when, following a well-worked free-kick routine in the 87th minute, his rasping shot cleared the crossbar by inches.
Inevitably the match went to extra time and within seconds Andrew Taylor had to clear off the line from a Suarez header to keep Cardiff on level terms before Carroll again went close with a header, Bellamy whipped a shot narrowly over the bar and Johnson fired agonisingly wide.
With Cardiff visibly tiring it was all Liverpool but there was so much drama to come.
Liverpool thought they had won it when substitute Dirk Kuyt thundered home a shot for 2-1 after 108 minutes; but brave Cardiff refused to buckle. With defender Ben Turner playing as a striker they almost equalised when his header was cleared off the line by - of all people - Kuyt. But from the resultant corner the unthinkable happened - and Turner bundled the ball home in the 118th minute to set off scenes of wild celebrations amongst Cardiff fans.
It was left to penalties to decide the final - and that heartbreaking moment for Anthony Gerrard, who dragged his spot kick wide eventually sealed Liverpool's famous win. It was their first victory at Wembley since the League Cup Final of 1995.Cardiff City:
Tom Heaton; Andrew Taylor, Ben Turner, Mark Hudson (Anthony Gerrard 99), Kevin McNaughton (Darcy Blake 106); Joe Mason (Filip Kiss 91), Peter Whittingham, Dan Cowie, Aron Gunnarsson, Rudy Gestede, Kenny Miller. Subs not used:
David Marshall, Robert Earnshaw, Craig Conway, Lee Naylor.Liverpool:
Pepe Reina; Luis Enrique, Daniel Agger (Jamie Carragher 86), Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson; Steven Gerrard, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson (Craig Bellamy 58); Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll (Dirk Kuyt 102), Luis Suarez. Subs not used:
Maxi Rodriguez, Jay Spearing, Alexander Doni, Martin Kelly.