Liverpool added to their Anfield trophy cabinet for the first time since 2006 in a dramatic win over Cardiff in the League Cup after extra time and penalties at Wembley.
Despite having 66% of the possession and a fine chance from Glen Johnson in the first quarter of the game, sloppy defending led to Liverpool going down to a 19min goal from Joe Mason. Martin Skrtel finally equalised on the hour after Liverpool’s repeated attempts at goals were blocked by the solid Cardiff defense. It looked like Liverpool were set to walk away with the trophy after substitute Dirk Kuyt put them ahead for the first time in the game with a fine goal in the first half of extra time. With three minutes to go, Cardiff equalised through Ben Turner after having two chances swept from the line by Skrtel and Kuyt respectively. It looked as though Cardiff could win the shoot after veteran penalty takers Steven Gerrard and Charlie Adam missed, but having given their all during the game time Rudy Gustede and Anthony Gerrard lacked the energy to convert their penalties into goals and following Kenny Miller’s miss allowed Liverpool to win 3-2 on penalties (Dirk Kuyt, Stuart Downing, Glen Johnson; Don Cowie, Peter Whittingham).
As a Liverpool fan, I’m naturally thrilled to win our first trophy under King Kenny Dalglish’s second reign at the club. Dirk Kuyt’s goal was according to Optasport Liverpool’s 42nd shot at goal during the game. (BBC sport’s statistics show there was 39 shots by Liverpool in the game) Although Cardiff got their men behind the ball and defended well, Liverpool had no excuse for not converting more of their chances. Suarez’ quick feet got him past defenders on a number of occasions, though he lacked end product. I personally felt he had a poor game and was caught offside more times than would be acceptable of a Sunday league player. Steven Gerrard had a range of shots at goal from outside the area, uncharacteristically hitting them all ‘high, wide and not at all handsome.’ He lacked the spark that he has had in previous big occasions at the club, and his penalty miss came as no surprise to me, although Cardiff goalie Tom Heaton pulled off a great save. When I read the team sheet before the game, I was unhappy to see Stuart Downing start ahead of Craig Bellamy though Downing had a better game than most of the men in red and was awarded Man of the Match. I personally agree with Alan Hansen’s opinion that Martin Skrtel was Liverpool’s player of the match as unlike Jose Enrique, who left a lot of space for the Cardiff attackers to run across, he was solid in his defending and could have scored a second goal. It was nice to see Glen Johnson press forward and create chances at goal. At times he was more effective than both strikers Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez in Liverpool’s attack on goal.
Credit to Cardiff, they played their socks off, and will be disappointed that they didn’t come away with the silverware. A frustrating game to watch as a Liverpool fan, though a lovely result in the end. Now for the FA Cup…