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Rediff.com  » Sports » FA Cup: Carroll heads Liverpool into final

FA Cup: Carroll heads Liverpool into final

April 14, 2012 22:38 IST

Liverpool striker Andy Carroll headed an 87th minute winner to secure a 2-1 victory over Merseyside rivals Everton in an error-strewn FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

The scrappy win after they conceded an early goal puts Liverpool into next month's final where they will play either Tottenham Hotspur or Chelsea who meet on Sunday.

Liverpool recovered with a 62nd minute equaliser from Luis Suarez before Carroll's late header after Everton deservedly led through a 24th minute strike from Nikica Jelavic.

Andy CarrollThe first two goals came from defensive mistakes as Croatia forward Jelavic profited from a mix-up between Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger who failed to clear a loose ball.

Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Suarez struck after Everton's Sylvain Distin underhit a backpass into his path. That mistake by the Frenchman changed the course of the match.

Liverpool, who had played poorly until then, gradually took control of the game after Suarez's goal and in the end just about deserved to reach their first FA Cup final since 2006.

The game looked to be heading into extra time when substitute Seamus Coleman needlessly fouled Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard to concede a free-kick wide on the left.

Liverpool substitute Craig Bellamy, who had only been on the pitch for a few minutes, whipped in a perfect ball which Carroll headed past the despairing dive of keeper Tim Howard.

Everton, who had been more inventive in the opening stages, went ahead following a terrible mix-up between Carragher and Agger on the edge of the penalty area.

The defenders failed to deal with a bouncing ball, each one leaving it to the other, before Carragher, attempting to clear, slipped and kicked the ball straight at Tim Cahill's chest.

The loose ball bounced to Jelavic who took his chance brilliantly, firing low past stand-in keeper Brad Jones for his sixth goal in his 11th appearance since joining for a bargain 5.5 million poundsfrom Rangers in January.

Liverpool had plenty of possession for the rest of the half and, with Gerrard driving them forward, were far from a beaten force but they failed to trouble Howard and generally lacked ideas and inspiration until Distin gifted them the equaliser.

The weekend marked the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster when 96 Liverpool fans died at the semi-final against Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989 and the afternoon began with a perfectly observed minute's silence from both sets of fans.

The two sides had not met at Wembley since the 1989 final, which took place five weeks after the tragedy. Liverpool won that game 3-2, their second FA Cup final victory over Everton in four seasons following a 3-1 win in the 1986 final.

Everton were the in-form team going into Saturday's match but Liverpool managed to maintain their FA Cup superiority having not lost to their rivals in a semi-final in three meetings since their last defeat to them at this stage in 1906.

Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool side, after beating Cardiff City in the League Cup final in February, now have the chance to claim a cup double by winning the FA Cup final on May 5.

Photograph: Scott Heavey/Getty Images

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