Bellamy sets Liverpool against former club at Wembley

Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2 (Liverpool win 3-2 on aggregate)

Liverpool ended a 16-year wait for a return to Wembley as they held
off Manchester City to set up a Carling Cup final against Cardiff next
month.

Former City striker Craig Bellamy was the hero for the team he rejoined in August, scoring the decisive goal 16 minutes from time.

The Wales international played a pivotal role throughout and will now face another former club - and city of his birth - Cardiff, as the Reds seek to end a trophy drought dating back to 2006.

Watching Liverpool owner John Henry will hope it is the start of a revival at the club he bought almost 18 months ago.

Roberto Mancini's City may have loftier ambitions as they currently top the Barclays Premier League but their approach to overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit could have been more emphatic.

They scored twice at Anfield but they were far from at their devastating best and Liverpool created more chances and could have won by a more convincing margin.

However, had it not been for referee Phil Dowd generously awarding a penalty to allow Steven Gerrard to equalise late in the first half, the course of the match could have been different.

Nigel de Jong had put his side ahead on the night, and even after Gerrard's strike Edin Dzeko's goal looked like taking the second leg into extra time before Bellamy's intervention

Mancini's decision to start with three centre-backs - Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards either side of the nervy Stefan Savic, with top scorer Sergio Aguero dropped to the bench - looked over-cautious and Liverpool seized the initiative.

Aleksandar Kolarov almost gifted Jose Enrique an opener in the fourth minute from a sliced clearance back across goal but Joe Hart's outstretched foot block the left-back's shot and Stewart Downing screwed his follow-up volley wide.

Gerrard, tasked with a watching brief on David Silva, was booked for an early foul on Gareth Barry but it was the tackle of Charlie Adam on Dzeko from Silva's corner which could have done more damage to Liverpool but there were few City appeals for a penalty and Dowd was unmoved.

Bellamy was Liverpool's most threatening outlet and he drew another save out of Hart after turning Savic on the edge of the box before having a goal disallowed for offside.

The home side dominated the opening half-hour but they were hit with a career-best goal from De Jong.

Having collected a square pass from Silva 30 yards out the trajectory of his sweetly-struck shot started outside Jose Reina's left-hand post but curled back enough to brilliantly beat the goalkeeper.

De Jong goals are a rarity - it was only his second in 118 appearances - but there was far more familiarity about the goal which put Liverpool back in front on aggregate.

Dowd generously decided Daniel Agger's shot which deflected up off Richards and on to his arm was a penalty and Gerrard, scorer from the spot in the first encounter, fired home to make it four consecutive goals in league cup semi-finals, having scored in both legs against Watford in 2005.

Savic was replaced by Aguero for the second half as City reverted to a flat back four but Liverpool were first to threaten again as Gerrard whipped in a free-kick from the left and Hart half-punched only to redeem himself by tipping over Martin Skrtel's goalbound shot.

The England goalkeeper, as he had done in November's league draw at Anfield, superbly kept the Reds at bay again when he tipped over Downing's downward volley from Kuyt's cross.

Silva wasted a free-kick from the right after the Spaniard was booked for fouling Zabaleta but there could not have been a greater contrast with Kolarov's cross in the 67th minute.

The Russian drilled a low ball from wide on the left across Liverpool's six-yard box for Dzeko, who had lost Agger, to tap in at the far post.

Liverpool have a habit of producing fairytale finishes under the Anfield floodlights and so it proved.

Kuyt's pass in from the right to Bellamy was laid off to Glen Johnson who immediately bounced the ball back to the Welshman who curled home with his left foot.

Having effectively had his City career ended by Mancini after a fall-out with the Italian, it is unlikely the delicious irony was lost on the 32-year-old.

Kuyt headed wide Henderson's cross before Bellamy departed to a standing ovation, with even some among the City fans applauding his efforts.

PA

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices