Liverpool v Manchester City, Carling Cup semi-final 2nd leg, Anfield Jan25 2012 - Manchester City FC

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  • Liverpool

    Liverpool 2

    Gerrard (pen) 39, Bellamy 73

  • Manchester City

    City 2

    De Jong 30, Dzeko 66

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  • 25 January 2012 21:39
  • Posted by Peter Ferguson

So, it will have to be just the Premier League title and a dip at the Europa League this season. There will be no Wembley return for City after a dramatic night at Anfield.

The Blues' Carling Cup final hopes foundered first on a dodgy penalty award then a lethal thrust from former City striker Craig Bellamy as the football fates chose to mock them in a luckless 3-2 aggregate defeat.

Having seen off both last season's finalists Birmingham and Arsenal in earlier rounds, City were chasing their first League Cup final since Dennis Tueart's 1976 bicycle kick.

But even though Joe Hart produced a bravura performance in City's goal, even he could not prevent Steven Gerrard's second penalty of the tie nor the effective winner from the discarded Bellamy.

Gerrard's spot kick was the difference in the first leg at the Etihad a fortnight earlier. Now Bellamy, who opted out of Roberto Mancini's Blue revolution for Liverpool, was the decisive factor.

To be fair, City had Hart to thank for another marvellous save from his high-end repertoire or they would have been facing an almost impossible task from the opening minutes here.

When a poor attempted clearance from Aleks Kolarov succeeded only in finding Jose Enrique, it was the England goalkeeper's outstretched boot that saved his team-mate's blushes.

Almost an action replay of his victory-salvaging save in the second half at Wigan, it was Hart at his very best and should have provided the perfect inspiration for the Blues

Instead it just seemed to annoy Liverpool and they enjoyed the lion's share of the play, with Charlie Adam forcing Hart into another decent save with a fierce dipping low drive.

Craig Bellamy bested Stefan Savic for a good effort that the keeper parried, and when the former Blue did put the ball in the net he was clearly offside and it didn't count.

With Liverpool the better side, the odds must have favoured a lively Bellamy to break the deadlock. Incredibly for City fans, it turned out instead to be Nigel de Jong.The Dutch midfielder scores goals about as often as he misses a tackle, but when he let fly in front of the Kop from 25 yards on the half-hour his curling shot gave a stretching Pepe Reine no chance.

There was almost a bemusement about the celebrations that followed only De Jong's second goal in more than 100 starts for City but there was anger at the nature of the equaliser nine minutes later.

Micah De jong Bellamy and Nasri talking to the ref

Micah Richards was harshly penalised when a shot from Daniel Agger ricocheted up from his boot to his face-protecting arm as he stretched full length to block the raiding Dane.

But referee Phil Dowd, without the benefit of the TV replays that supported Richards' pained protests, awarded the spot kick and Gerrard put away the spot kick with his usual aplomb.

He beat Hart with a replica of the penalty that had given Liverpool their slender first leg victory at the Etihad, while Richards was still "conferring" with the referee at half time. It had followed a dubious challenge by Adam on Dzeko in the opposing penalty box. 

When they reconvened, Hart again came to City's rescue in heroic fashion as Liverpool closed in for the kill that the in-form England goalkeeper refused to allow them.

Not content with an instant reaction save to parry from Dirk Kuyt, Hart brilliantly tipped over Martin Skrtel's close-range effort before denying the unmarked Stewart Downing at the far post.

 

Those few opening minutes of the second half were a survival test many sides would not have passed, and having done so the Blues gradually enjoyed a better share of the ball

They also enjoyed a second goal from Edin Dzeko, who lost his marker at the far post to finish off a  cracking cross from Kolarov - the first time Liverpool had conceded two at Anfield all season.

It was the Bosnia striker's second goal in three games after that agonising lean spell, and looked likely to usher in extra time until Bellamy finally struck gold.

The Welshman swapped deadly accurate penalty-area passes with Glen Johnson at electric pace before steering his shot beyond Hart, this time unable to pull off the near-impossible.

De Jong Kick to Goal

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Match details

Wednesday 25 January 2012, 7:45PM

Anfield Att:44,590
Carling Cup

Referee:
Phil Dowd

Teams

Liverpool:

Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique; Downing, Gerrard, Henderson, Adam, Bellamy Kelly, 86); Kuyt

Unused subs:
Doni, Carroll, Maxi Rodrigues, Coates, Carragher, Shelvey

Bookings:
Gerrard, Enrique

Manchester City:

Hart; Richards, Savic (Aguero, 46), Lescott; Zabaleta, De Jong (A Johnson, 77), Nasri, Barry, Kolarov; Silva; Dzeko

Unused subs:
Pantilimon, Clichy, Rekik, Milner, Hargreaves

Bookings:
Kolarov

All times are taken from a live feed and are approximate at time of publishing.

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