Liverpool have reached their first cup final since 2007, and booked their first trip to the new Wembley Stadium, after knocking out Manchester City in the Carling Cup semi-finals following a 2-2 draw at Anfield.

 

It has been a long time coming but Liverpool fans are finally going back to Wembley, some 16 years since the last time they played at the historic ground, back in 1996.

 

The Reds did not get an easy path to the final by any means, with Manchester City making them work right to the end to earn their spot against Cardiff City, as Liverpool won 3-2 on aggregate.

 

Liverpool led 1-0 from the first leg at the Etihad Stadium, but it was City who took the lead in the return match, somewhat against the run of play thanks to a goal from Nigel de Jong, who curled it home from around 25 yards out after half an hour.

 

It was not long before the hosts had their chance to level the game when referee Phil Dowd judged that City defender Micah Richards had handled the ball and awarded a penalty to Liverpool shortly before half-time. Skipper Steven Gerrard beat England team-mate Joe Hart from the spot, exactly as he did in the first leg, to ease Liverpool ahead 2-1 on aggregate.

 

After the break, the home side came out all guns blazing and City goalkeeper Hart was one of the busiest men on the field, having to work hard to deny several Liverpool chances.  

 

Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko gave Liverpool fans cause for anxiety when he restored the visitors' second-leg lead in the 67th minute, finishing from close range after Aleksandar Kolarov's cross.

 

Kenny Dalglish’s men replied seven minutes later when Craig Bellamy linked up with Glen Johnson and beat Hart from inside the box with a composed finish to cap a man-of-the-match performance.

 

Bellamy's goal set up a final on 26th February against his hometown team Cardiff, where he spent time on loan last season, and ended the hopes of his former club from Manchester in the process.

 

Liverpool’s quest for a top four place in the Premier League is on hold this weekend, with bitter rivals Manchester United heading to Anfield in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

 

It is a fixture that is in no need of extra spice, though the recent racism row involving the banned Luis Suarez and United's Patrice Evra is sure to add heat to what is always an explosive encounter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool book Wembley date with Cardiff

By Sheena McStravick, JMU Journalism Sport

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Liverpool made the Carling Cup final thanks to Bellamy's equaliser against City (Pics © Trinity Mirror)

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