Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City Match Report
Liverpool went into this Carling Cup second leg tie with a slender one goal advantage after their gritty performance in Manchester a fortnight ago. Liverpool would be hoping to finish of the job at a packed Anfield, as they hoped to return to Wembley for the first time since 1996, and get to their first major final since 2007. Dalglish would be hoping for a response from his team after publicly criticising his players after their poor performance against Bolton at the weekend.
Dalglish made two changes to the side that lost at Bolton with Dirk Kuyt and Stewart Downing returning to the side in place of Andy Carroll and Maxi. With Jay Spearing still recovering from injury, Gerrard and Adam once again were paired in the middle of midfield. But Liverpool had an attacking looking about their team, especially with a draw being good enough to take them to Wembley.
Anfield was packed and the atmosphere before kick-off was reminiscent of those famous European nights. Liverpool started the match with intent on adding to their one goal aggregate lead, and inside four minutes they almost scored when Enrique had a shot saved by the right leg of Joe Hart with the rebound smashed wide by Downing.
Moments later Charlie Adam had a right foot rocket well saved by Hart low to his left. City tried to respond to Liverpool’s early onslaught but Nasri’s effort was wayward. The lively Bellamy brought out another save from Hart after scampering past the nervy Savic. With Liverpool on top and looking the more dangerous it was City who scored first when De Jong’s long range effort ended up in the top corner, stunning the Kop.
But Liverpool responded brilliantly after this setback and they soon equalised when Richards’ block on Agger’s shot was handled and referee Dowd pointed to the spot. Steven Gerrard converted the penalty as Anfield erupted with delight. Both teams went in at the half with Liverpool still holding a one goal advantage.
Liverpool started the second half the way they started the first with Kuyt bringing out another save from Hart early on. But then Joe Hart brought out the save of the match with a brilliant fingertip save from a prodded Skrtel effort. Joe Hart was playing a blinder and he made another great save blocking Stewart Downing’s back-post volley.
But just like the first half Liverpool were stunned when Dzeko tapped in tapped in a brilliant Kolarov whipped cross from close range in the 67th minute. But Liverpool looked hungry to get to Wembley and they equalised in the 74th minute to gain the aggregate advantage when Bellamy finished off a terrific move involving Kuyt and Johnson.
City tried to respond as they pinned Liverpool back in the closing stages, but Liverpool stood firm and City never really got a clear chance as Liverpool celebrated at the end overjoyed at the thought of ending their long wait to return to Wembley.
A tremendous night for everyone connected with Liverpool to reach Wembley for the first time since 1996. I was very pleased with Kenny’s team selection by playing Kuyt and Bellamy who give great movement. The hunger shown by the whole team was impressive after such a disappointment at Bolton. Kenny couldn’t have wished for a better response from his players. If it wasn’t for Joe Hart it would have been a lot more comfortable. Some big performances with Charlie Adam having a very good match, as I have felt he has been struggling in recent games. Dirk Kuyt gave so much to the team and great selection by Kenny to play him. Stewart Downing was very good and he looks far better on the left linking up with Enrique. Bellamy was just everywhere, amazing performance. City should have got a penalty when Adam caught Dzeko in the first half, but the referee was behind the incident and never got a good view. Liverpool got lucky with the penalty but so glad we got it. Great for Liverpool to get back to a cup final, and even better with it being at Wembley.
Man Of The Match – Bellamy – one of the best individual performances at Anfield by a Liverpool player in a long time. Brilliantly taken goal too.
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