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Monday, February 27, 2012

Triumphant Reds End Six-year Trophy Drought

The two amigos - Luis Suarez and Steven Gerard
Liverpool ended their six-year title drought with a dramatic win in a penalty shout-out over Championship side Cardiff in the Carling Cup final at Wembley stadium. Making their maiden appearance at the newly refurbished Wembley Stadium since 1995, the Reds were pushed to the death end before eventually winning a nervous penalty shoot-out 3-2 after 120 minutes of football.

The Reds went into the match as clear favourites over the Welsh side and could have taken the lead inside two minutes but Glen Johnson saw his stunning curled effort rattle the crossbar.

But it was Malky Mackay's charges who took the lead against the run of play after 19 minutes. After a nice interchange just outside the Reds’ penalty area, Kenny Miller put Josep Mason through on goal and the 20-year-old tucked the ball between Pepe Reina’s legs to put his team in the lead.

Kenny Dalglish’s side probed but could not unlock The Bluebirds' stubborn defence. But just on the hour mark, Martin Skrtel restored parity when he pounced on a loose ball from a Luis Suarez header that hit the post and the Slovakian had no trouble drilling the ball into the net through Tom Heaton’s legs. The tough-tackling Liverpool no. 37 became the club's first player to score a goal at the "home of English football" since 1996 when Steve MacManaman did in an FA Cup final.

None of the two teams could snatch a winner in normal time and after the disappointing Luis Suarez missed a golden chance to kill off the match the game moved into extra time. Dirk Kuyt could have wished the golden goal rule was still functional when he put the Merseysider’s 2-1 up after 108 minutes of football.

But Liverpool’s defence fell into pieces barely two minutes before the final whistle with Kuyt unable to clear his line allowing Ben Turner to nick in the equalizer that sent the match into a nailbiting shoot-out.

Steven Gerard was the first to step up for the Reds. His penalty was well dispatched but Heaton pulled off a sensational save to leave the traveling Kop in awe. Kenny Miller stepped forward for Cardiff but saw his effort hit the post. Charlie Adam sent his miles over. Don Cowie sent Reina the wrong way to put the Bluebirds in control. Kuyt coolly slotted his home to make it 1-1. Rudy Gestede missed, Man-of-the-match Stewart Downing converted and so did Peter Whittingham.

It was now up to Glen Johnson and Steven Gerard’s cousin Antony Gerard. The England right back had no problem getting his past Heaton. But the younger Gerard sent his spot kick wide to give Liverpool a 3-2 win and the 2012 Carling Cup trophy, the Reds' record eighth League Cup. And in what great rivals Manchester United might not want to hear, Kenny Dalglish's men have equaled United's record 15 domestic cup wins.

Well, the wait for a silverware at L4 is over. The FA Cup final and another trip back to Wembley is just two games away. Fourth place is still very much possible. Onwards, and upwards you Red Army!!

And That's thesteifmastertake!!