Liverpool scraped past Cardiff City by the skin of their teeth in the 2012 Carling Cup Final.
Cardiff took the lead on 20mins from Joe Mason’s strike and never really looked threatened in a first half which Liverpool dominated in possession but with no real penetration.
Liverpool got back into the game through a Martin Srktel goal when a deflection of the Cardiff goal fell to the big centre halves feet for him to slide it through the goalkeepers leg and make it 1-1.
And so it stayed until the second half of extra time when a pop shot from Dirk Kuyt squeezed in at the near post to seemingly break Cardiff hearts. But a further twist was to follow when Cardiff showed a never say die attitude which is more than admirable. Ben Turner the Cardiff centre half stabbed home from close range to take the game to penalties and erupt the Cardiff section of Wembley.
And so the lottery of a penalty shoot-out would decide the Carling Cups destination. Heaton pulled off a wonder save to deny Steven Gerrard before a succession of misses from Charlie Adam, Kenny Miller etc. Gusteede who lead the line well all game but looked dead on his feet when he stepped up and so he missed, hitting the post. Liverpool scored their final penalty which meant Anthony Gerrard cousin of Liverpool’s captain Steven, had to score, he look to place it in the bottom corner but rolled the ball wide meaning Kenny Dalglish had brought silverware back to Anfield.
Although a great day for Liverpool, I can’t help but notice the celebrations was somewhat muted. Is this because the Liverpool players know they under-performed or because they know the real winners today was Cardiff City.
Cardiff showed a fighting spirit which is rarely seen by the so called best players in the world, they matched Liverpool stride for stride and I’m certain any neutral fan watching today, for a brief period, become a Cardiff fan.
They defended like warriors throwing feet, heads, bodies, anything on the line and the goalkeeper Tom Heaton played the match of his life making several crucial saves to keep Cardiff in it.
Cardiff fans will make the long journey home disappointed but proud of their team. And so they should be, today Cardiff may not have lifted the trophy but just may of adhered themselves to football fans around the country.
Congratulations to Liverpool on their first trophy since 2006 but today Liverpool won the match but Cardiff most certainly won the war.