• Cardiff City v Liverpool, Carling Cup final

Liverpool win cup thanks to Gerrard's missed penalty

ESPN staff
February 26, 2012

Carling Cup final gallery

Liverpool overcame conceding a 118th-minute equaliser to win the Carling Cup on penalties against Cardiff City on Sunday.

Steven Gerrard saw the Reds' first penalty of the shoutout saved by Tom Heaton, but cousin Anthony missed Cardiff's decisive final spot-kick to hand the Merseyside club their first significant piece of silverware since 2006.

Gerrard, on as a substitute, was consoled by his relative at the final whistle - as Kenny Dalglish and his side were finally able to celebrate their success after a rollercoaster afternoon that had numerous twists and turns.

Young striker Joe Mason had opened the scoring in the first half for Cardiff in normal time, as Liverpool needed until the 60th minute for Martin Skrtel to find an equaliser and set the stage for an extra 30 minutes of action.

Dirk Kuyt then put Liverpool on course for celebration with an unorthodox finish, before the Dutchman's joy turned to pain as he failed to clear from a corner as centre-back Ben Turner poked home a second equaliser.

That sent the game to penalties - which started in horrible fashion for the Premier League side as both Gerrard and Charlie Adam missed their opening attempts. But Kenny Miller and Rudy Gestede missed for the Welsh side and, after Stewart Downing, Dirk Kuyt and Glen Johnson had converted, a second miss from a Gerrard decided the contest.

It seemed like so much time had passed since the game got underway. Things looked like they would go to plan for Dalglish's side when the Cardiff crossbar was rattled inside two minutes. Gerrard raced 60 yards on a quick counter-attack but Johnson's shot which beat goalkeeper Tom Heaton and came back off the crossbar, with Gerrard blazing over the rebound, was the closest they came to threatening Cardiff's goal in the first half.

The Bluebirds created two better chances and, crucially, converted one. Having snatched at a shot from Don Cowie's clever movement and backheel Kenny Miller did not make the same mistake twice.

The former Rangers front man was afforded all the time and space he required in the 19th minute when he picked up the ball just outside the area. When Daniel Agger eventually closed him down Miller slid a pass into the space behind the centre-back where Mason collected and fired beyond Jose Reina.

The rest of the half saw Liverpool dominate but rarely trouble Cardiff.

Stewart Downing was their most creative outlet with a succession of crosses from the left but the Bluebirds dealt with them well enough, relying on Liverpool's over-complication and profligacy.

Ben Turner gets a second equaliser © Getty Images

Charlie Adam flashed a low drive narrowly wide of Heaton's left-hand post while late in the half Andy Carroll was denied a clear close-range shooting opportunity when Cardiff captain Mark Hudson's outstretched leg hooked the ball away.

Liverpool fans tried to evoke memories of their second-half comeback in Istanbul in the 2005 Champions League final with a rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' at the break. The situation was not quite as dire as that night but certainly Dalglish's side needed to find more composure and their clinical side.

Luis Suarez was starting to have more of an influence and drew the first real save from Heaton with an angled shot and was denied by Kevin McNaughton's perfectly-timed intervention just as he was about to unload from close range.

The appearance of former Cardiff striker and boyhood fan Craig Bellamy for the ineffectual Jordan Henderson brought, probably for the first time in cup final history, a standing ovation from both sets of fans. Liverpool's salvation, however, was to come from an unexpected source.

Downing's 60th-minute corner was nodded on by Carroll to Suarez whose header came back off the post and Skrtel showed the composure in front of goal unbefitting a centre-back by taking a touch and slamming home the equaliser.

Turner had a chance to be Cardiff's hero with six minutes to go but planted his far-post header into the side-netting.

Miller should have won it for the Bluebirds in normal time when a quickly-taken free-kick caught the defence napping but the Scot, in acres of space in the penalty area, shot over with the goal at his mercy.

Barely a minute into extra time Andrew Taylor cleared Suarez's header from a Bellamy corner off the line before Anthony Gerrard finally got the chance to square-up against his more illustrious cousin when Hudson was forced off with cramp.

Three minutes into the second period of extra time Liverpool took the lead when Kuyt drilled home the rebound from his own cross. The Dutchman then headed a shot off the line but got himself in a tangle at the resulting corner to allow Turner to force penalties.

In the shoot-out which followed Steven Gerrard (saved) and Adam (high) missed for Liverpool, as Miller (post), Rudy Gestede (post) and Anthony Gerrard (wide) for Cardiff.

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