As Liverpool safely secured their place in this season's showcase Carling Cup final, last night's 2-2 draw at Anfield [and 3-2 aggregate victory], will be remembered for more than just the successful passage, to mark the club's first Wembley appearance since 1996.

For Kenny Dalglish, the manner of the performance will provide a renewed sense of optimism, and with that will refuel Reds fans' dreams that their once great club can rediscover the form to take them back to the glory years.

Wenesday night provided the Liverpool players with an opportunity to redeem themselves after Saturday's humiliating 3-1 defeat at the hands of Barclays Premier League strugglers Bolton Wanderers, and how they rose to the occasion.

After a rare public tongue-lashing from Dalglish and Co, shortly followed by a timely rallying call from club captain Steven Gerrard - the cracks were staring to appear, and signs that all was not rosy on Merseyside.

The Liverpool boss has been nothing but protective of his players this season, particularly his most recent additions, after splashing more than £100million on new signings since his return to the Anfield helm just over 12 months ago.

Having defended his players to the hilt, despite a succession of frustrating results, particularly at home, the realisation that they had fallen well below the club's traditional standards of effort and commitment, Dalglish was finally prepared to let the world see his dissatisfaction.

Much has been said about the under-par performances of £35million club-record signing Andy Carroll, but the likes of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, and Jordan Henderson have been equally underwhelming. A total of £70million invested, with 101 appearances between them this season and only eight goals to show for it - the return can hardly be regarded as value-for-money acquisitions, despite each individual showing glimpses of what they can offer. Until last night that is.

The Anfield reprieve represented the rebirth of the club's ailing stars, who were central to maintaining a high Liverpool tempo. Henderson was pushed forward into the middle of the attacking midfield line, and Downing was stationed wide on the left, with the sole intention of exploiting his stronger foot in a bid to get the ball in the box.

Adam was situated at the base of the midfield alongside Gerrard, who has taken some of the spotlight away from the Scot's impressive early season performances since his return from injury.

Carroll was left to watch from the bench, dropped in favour of the evergreen Craig Bellamy - another summer signing, who arrived at Anfield on a free transfer, and must surely be regarded as Dalglish's best piece of business, even before last night's enigmatic display.

The 32-year-old Welsh international set the tone of tigerish aggression that inspired Liverpool to victory, and crucially scored the equalising goal that confirmed their place in next month's final.

Dalglish's new recruits demonstrated their fundamental enthusiasm and appetite for the job at hand, but now comes the real test of their resilience as expectation levels continue to rise.

Topics:
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League Cup
Liverpool