Carroll books Liverpool’s final berth
Andy Carroll scored a late winner to defeat Everton in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley
Andy Carroll’s late goal sent Liverpool through to the 2012 FA Cup final as they defeated Everton 2-1 at Wembley and kept alive hopes of a cup double.
He had missed a number of chances throughout the game but a close range header made the difference as Kenny Dalglish’s side came from behind after defensive blunders by each team in either half had levelled a tight game.
It was an emotional day for all involved and a moment of silence before kick-off in memory of the 96 who died in the Hillsborough Tragedy was impeccably observed.
Everton were the form team going into the game but it was Kenny Dalglish’s side who has the first sight of goal after two minutes when Andy Carroll broke into the right of the box, but his pull back was shot over by Jay Spearing.
The game was to and fro for much of the early period but martin Skrtel had a glimpse of goal just before the quarter of an hour mark.
Luis Suarez was brought down after turning Sylvan Distin on the edge of the area and, after Daniel Agger’s free-kick hit the wall, the ball found its way to Skrtel in the area but his shot was weak and straight at Tim Howard.
The game was quietening down as both sides were cancelling each other out, but the Toffees were delirious when a defensive horror-show gifted them the lead in the 23rd minute.
Nikica Jelavic won a header with Skrtel but it was falling to Jamie Carragher just inside the box. It should have been cleared easily but Carragher and Agger hesitated, confusion gripped them and the former could only smash his desperate clearance into Tim Cahill and the ball fell nicely for Jelavic to slide past Brad Jones.
Liverpool had been poor up to then but they stirred themselves slightly after going behind, with crosses from Suarez and Downing went into dangerous positions but Baines and John Heitinga did well to see off the lurking Carroll.
Everton were content to sit back and the Reds fans in the crowd were getting frustrated as they were getting plenty of opportunities to cross into the box, but the quality was not there for Carroll to feed off of.
The big striker should have pulled his side level two minutes after the break, however, and it came off of Downing’s first really effective cross into the box.
The England winger took on Baines down the left and crossed to the back post with his unfavoured right where Carroll was waiting all alone five yards out, but his downward header was poor and went a yard wide. It was a glaring miss by the most expensive ever Englishman.
It turned out to not be too costly as the Everton defence took their turn to gift a goal just after the hour when Distin’s awful back pass gave the ball to Suarez who calmly slotted the ball past Howard with the outside of his right foot.
An otherwise dull game was energised by a second blunder and Liverpool, who were vastly improved in the second half, began to find some form.
They were on top for a fifteen minute period, but the introduction of Seamus Colemon for the anonymous Magaye Gueye steadied things for Moyes’ side.
However, Carroll managed to miss another chance, though it was not as straightforward as the header he missed earlier.
Colemon handled the ball in the build up but Howard Webb played on and Carroll found himself in space on the edge of the box, but his shot across goal was whiskers wide.
Another good chance for the former Newcastle United striker as a sloppy bit of play from Phil Neville under pressure from substitute Maxi Rodrigues saw the ball fall to Carroll nine yards out, but it was congested and his snatched shot deflected wide off of Suarez.
His moment of redemption came with three minutes left, however, after Colemon was fortunate to avoid a second booking for a challenge on Gerrard on the right near the line.
The Liverpool captain crossed the free-kick in and Carroll towered over everyone to nod home from six yards out. It was no more than they deserved as they had been by far the better side in the second half.
Everton had been very poor the whole second half and they could not stop their rivals from holding onto the ball and running down the four minutes of added time.
Dalglish’s side turned the game around brilliantly after half-time and they were deserved winners.
Everton were negative in trying to protect their lead and they just did not have it in them to stop Liverpool from carrying on their quest for a cup double.