Liverpool generation inspired by Wembley dream

Reaching the final would be the club's first appearance there since the Spice Boys of 1996

Etihad Stadium

The stage management was all planned out, with the lights dimmed and a silvery moon rising in the corner of the stadium as it does on the big Manchester City occasions. Yet this looked what it was: staged.

The 36,000 attendance and the empty seats showed how three cup semi-finals in as many years can take a sobering effect, especially for a club who are looking to take on the world.

Liverpool were a different story. They have a particular affinity with the League Cup, a competition in which their seven triumphs surpass any other side, and the prospect merely of going down to compete for it in February carries another rich significance. It would be their first appearance at Wembley since the Spice Boys of 1996 trod the turf in their white suits before facing Manchester United. For Steven Gerrard, a giant character as well as the match winner in Liverpool's victory last night, and for Jamie Carragher, wearing Liverpool's colours at the national stadium will be an entirely new experience, after all these years.

Carragher may actually miss out if they make it. His belated appearance as a midfield substitute – and in the League Cup at that – would have hurt here, 15 years to the day since his full debut against West Ham United at Anfield. Martin Skrtel did him no favours. The part he played last night in deterring Sergio Aguero from inflicting the same damage he had when these sides met in the Premier League eight days earlier bore out the way he has grown as a player under Kenny Dalglish's management.

It was not always a clash of equals. But when the Slovakian failed, there was always back-up option: a defensive collective build on the kind of principles which made Liverpool great. When Samir Nasri had eased past Skrtel and found Aguero, Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly bustled around the striker to smother his threat. When Aguero, in turn, stepped beyond Gerrard, Glen Johnson tackled fearlessly, from a treacherous spot inside the box.

There was sleight of hand when required. Charlie Adam was in Mario Balotelli's ear to help distract him. But this win was as purposeful as the Liverpool songs which commanded the stadium at the end. They have not lost one of their 13 League Cup semi-final ties at Anfield, where no stage management will be required for the return.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future