|What a centre back partnership, one of my favourite pictures from the final...|
Kenny Dalglish made sure he put his signings on show in an eleven including Suarez, Carroll and Downing. Cardiff saw the return of their first goalkeeper and fielded their big man Gestede up front.
After a day and a half of desperately trying to convince my mate to take us up to Liverpool to watch the match he eventually agreed and I'm so glad he did! We tried to get in to Cafe Sports England but it was fully booked, the doorman recommended a bar called "Rubber Soul" in Mathew Street, we went in but weren't too convinced. It seemed lively but was pretty small and so we went on the hunt for Walkabout.
Eventually we found it and the big screen was massive! So i was a happy lass. Just needed to find a spot where we could actually see the bloody screen. Whilst standing upstairs with me mate Dave waiting for me fella, i bumped in to Paul from The Redmen TV, if you haven't seen The Redmen, where have you been?! Check them out on Twitter and on You Tube. Paul's lot were upstairs but me, Rich and Dave eventually managed to find a suitable spot at the back downstairs, now all we had to do was wait.
Kick off seemed to take forever to turn up, the Arsenal match soaked up some of the waiting time but unlike others in the pub i wasn't really bothered. As many of you know, i couldn't really give a shite about any other team and although this match in particular had an affect on Liverpool's race for fourth, all i could think about was Wembley.
3 o'clock eventually came and it was time for Liverpool to show Cardiff what they're made of.
Against the run of play it was Cardiff who got the first goal. Liverpool had maintained a lot of possession but were once again struggling to create anything of real presence within the box. Cardiff however made sure they took their chance and Joe Mason gave them the lead.
A superb ball through from Kenny Miller put Mason into space, Reina made the decision to come out but Mason had already eyed where his shot was going and slipped the ball into the back of the net.
The Bluebirds went wild in a sun filled Wembley Stadium whilst Liverpool were left to think over their current plan of action.
Liverpool were cutting through the Cardiff midfield mainly via Stewart Downing. I must admit, I've been the first to criticise Downing of late but credit to the lad, he had a top game on Sunday. He was one of few willing to take on the Cardiff defence and his balls into the box were causing trouble left, right and centre.
Andy Carroll did his best to get on the end of these crosses but the big man couldn't quite convert a chance into a goal. His flick ons and hold up play though provided Liverpool with some more time to think over their options but the Reds still couldn't find an equaliser before half time.
At half time in Walkabout after singing my head off to Fields Of Anfield Road and When The Reds Go Marching In, my only real suggestion was to put Craig Bellamy on. I was absolutely loving Walkabout. It's hard to explain how excited and happy i was to be there, it's just as such a big Liverpool fan never being able to watch a final or big game with other Liverpool fans, I've always sort of felt left out. Don't get me wrong when i watch at home or in the local pubs i go as mental for a win as i would present at Anfield but it never quite feels as it should do. To be surrounded by my own supporters on Sunday and in Liverpool was just immense for me.
Just before the hour mark Dalglish decided to make his first substitution and what a good one it was. To the rapturous applause in Walkabout, Craig Bellamy was spotted with the fourth official, replacing Jordan Henderson, i thought it was a fantastic decision from the manager.
Shortly after the substitution Liverpool found their equaliser. With time running out it was a relief when Martin Skrtel finally put the ball in the net. Originally whipped in from a Stewart Downing corner, Andy Carroll got a head to the ball and then Suarez tried to finish the job but was denied by the post. Martin Skrtel fortunately though was awaiting the rebound, the centre back had time to control the ball and then ensure his shot put Liverpool level!
Walkabout went mental, i was jumping around like a nutcase but at least I'd remembered to put my thumb on the top of my Smirnoff Ice. This was my first soaking of beer but it was nowhere near as bad as it would be for Kuyt's goal and then the monstrous full time.
Neither side could find a winner within the 90 minutes but both teams made substitutions. Jamie Carragher entered the field and replaced Daniel Agger and goalscorer Mason was replaced with Filip Kiss for Cardiff.
Late on in the second half Luis Suarez was presented with a wonderful chance to win it for Liverpool but the Uruguayan failed to take his shot first time and his fancy attempt at a lob ended up going wide. It was frustrating to watch because all that was required here was the simple option, we know Suarez is skillful but i honestly think on another occasion he'd have taken it first time. We couldn't dwell on this though with extra time coming up.
Anthony Gerrard was sent into the fray for Cardiff as they entered extra time. Steven's cousin was surely ecstatic at the chance to cause an upset here at Wembley. Liverpool also took their chance in extra time to change things up a bit with Dirk Kuyt replacing Andy Carroll. Darcy Blake also came on for Cardiff.
At 107 minutes Liverpool had found their goal to take the lead. A remarkable finish from Dirk Kuyt who had only been on the field for 5 minutes sent the Red end of Wembley crazy and this was replicated back in Walkabout.
As i mentioned before, beer getting sprayed everywhere was clearly going to become a bit of a thing. Once again I'd jumped up, bouncing around with randomers but I'd finished my drink this time so there was no need to prevent it going everywhere. It wouldn't have mattered though, as the beer rained down and the claps and cheers rang out, Liverpool were on their way to their 8th League Cup...
Or so we thought.
A tenacious Cardiff ten minutes later went and found an equaliser. A corner from Aron Gunnarsson caused havoc in the box and when the ball fell to Ben Turner there was only one thing on his mind. Dirk Kuyt attempted to help out Reina who was also low to the ground but the Cardiff player put the ball into the back of the net and in turn put his side right back in the game.
With neither side managing to find a winner in extra time it went to penalties. Some people love them, most people hate them. As a Liverpool fan you always feel some sort of confidence because of our record in penalty shoot outs but it never quite prepares you for them.
By this point i was a nervous wreck. As i glanced around most people had taken my position of hands in a praying position over mouth (I'm not even religious! Haha.) Another favourite appeared to be finger nails in mouth and hands on back of head.
Steven Gerrard stepped up to take the first penalty, one man you would put money on, maybe even your house. To the surprise of everyone though the skipper was denied by a great save from Heaton. When Gerrard misses a penalty your heart just sinks, it had already been a slog but now it just felt like destiny was against us.
When Kenny Miller stepped up i was convinced he'd score. He played like a man possessed for the whole game and showed some real quality but he too missed to keep things level in the shootout.
Then it was the turn of Charlie Adam. To cut a long, high and shite penalty short, he completely missed. His effort high over the bar left everyone baffled and I'm sure he was as angry as me at that stage.
Don Cowie stepped up to put Cardiff ahead with a successful penalty but Dirk Kuyt followed with a composed spot kick.
Gestede another one of Cardiff's star men then followed up with a miss and Stewart Downing ensured Liverpool took advantage with a goal.
Peter Whittingham successfully put Cardiff level with his penalty past Reina and Glen Johnson made sure he converted with his high effort which left Heaton with no chance.
As Anthony Gerrard walked up to the spot i actually went into my own little world. I couldn't really hear anything, it felt like i was alone. The pressure on that man must have been unbearable and the amount of people in this bar wanting him to miss was just madness.
As his shot went wide and he fell to the ground i followed suit with a pouncing Pepe Reina. My arms were up, screaming my head off then seconds later i was drenched. My hair was absolutely soaked with beer, so was my shirt. My bag, scarf and cardigan which were underneath a massive chair on the floor were also soaked, how, i just don't know. By the time I'd finished celebrating I'd moved about 5ft to the left, the chairs behind us looked broken and they'd moved too, there was puddles of beer on the floor, Dave was stuck to it, my fella Rich had been drenched too and he was just there as a neutral it was just awesome!
You'll Never Walk Alone began to play and i sang my little heart out. For those of you who are regular readers you'll know how much my first YNWA at Anfield meant to me but being a part of this one came pretty close. As i tried to explain, to be watching with my own fans and in Liverpool was really special to me and as always the rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone covered me in goosebumps...
What a truly fantastic day for the club. 6 years since our last trophy and that man Kenny Dalglish brings the silverware back to Anfield. An inspired team performance helped us beat the superb Cardiff and credit to them and manager Malky Mackay, they were nothing short of brilliant.
But it doesn't matter how you win. If you convert enough penalties after 120 minutes of football, you are the winners.
Here's hoping this isn't the end of Liverpool's new success.
And just to end on, what a quality display from the Liverpool fans with an array of banners and posters showing their disgust against The S*n newspaper. That pathetic excuse for a paper is the same any day of the week, filled with lies. www.dontbuythesun.co.uk