Sunday, February 26, 2012

Live Thoughts: Cardiff vs Liverpool (Carling Cup)

I covered this match live. Here are my unedited thoughts when Liverpool took on Cardiff in the Carling Cup final!

Hey there and welcome! Liverpool are in their first final in five years, it's been too long. I remember that final too well, when we lost 2-1 to AC Milan in the Champions League final. It was horrible. I really don't want to feel that feeling again, especially not today. We just simply have to win. If we lose, it'll be the first time in 21 years since a team outside of the top division won the League Cup. We just have to win. I'm thoroughly looking forward to this, but I just wish I was with my family in North Wales, who are all Liverpool supporters, rather than on my own in my house with my three year old daughter who doesn't understand football quite yet. But still, let's hope we can win and I'll be just as happy!

Here are the teams:

Cardiff: Heaton; McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor; Cowie, Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Gestede, Mason; Miller. Subs: Marshal, Kiss, Gerrard, Earnshaw, Conway, Naylor, Blake.

We were expecting Miller to play on his own up front but no matter, he's the main threat and he can score if given the chance. Peter Whittingham has been a great Championship player for years and can also be a threat. But this is a still a team we need to beat, no excuses.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique, Gerrard, Adam, Henderson, Downing, Suarez, Carroll. Subs: Maxi, Kuyt, Spearing, Carragher, Doni, Kelly, Bellamy.

The pundits on Match of the Day were surprised Bellamy didn't start but I'm not. We're not being overcautious, but this is a balanced side. It's 4-4-2 and there's some nice balance here. I like it. Having Bellamy and/or Kuyt would disrupt the balance in that team and I think it's important today to get on that pitch, maintain possession and go forward when we're in full control. This team allows that. Bellamy can come on later if we need an injection of pace in the squad. 

1' - JOHNSON! He hit the bar! So close! Gerrard on the rebound and it's over. What a shot by Glen Johnson! Both teams had a good attack then and we almost scored! 

3' - They just mentioned Johnson being an FA Cup winner when Portsmouth beat Cardiff here a few years ago. I live in Portsmouth and I can tell you, that was a special win for the south coast team. I'm not a Pompey fan but I was really happy for them. I want a taste of that tonight for my team! 

6' - We're piling the pressure on early, two corners didn't really get that close to their goal, but we're on top at the moment. We need to keep on this pressure early on, hopefully it'll lead to an early goal. 

9' - The pressure is off a little at the moment, but there's a long way to go. What matters is that we win, not how! 

12' - Another corner for Liverpool, Carroll is penalised for a push on a Cardiff player. 

15' - Carroll has an effort at goal and it's over the bar. 

17' - A nice bit of movement from Henderson, Johnson and Suarez and Suarez chips the ball to Carroll who has a troubling yet tame effort on target,

18' - GOAL! Joe Mason. We're behind. Martin Skrtel heads the ball back to a Cardiff player, the ball is played to Miller who passes to Mason, who clips the ball past Reina. Awful defending all-round.

21' - That was a poor bit of defending. Credit where it's due Cardiff passed the ball nice and slick for the goal, but our defence was asleep. I can't believe we're behind. 

21' - Agger doing one of his vintage runs down the the centre of the pitch and his shot is blocked by a defender.

22' - Possession is 65%/35% to Liverpool. Yet we're behind. We need to get back in this match, thankfully there's a lot of time to go. 

25' - We're all around their box at the moment, lovely work from Downing who backheels the ball to Jose Enrique into the box. We pile in their box but Cardiff deal with the pressure. 

28' - Downing loses his defender again and crosses low into the box again, it misses everyone, only Carroll was in the box that was in a Red shirt. It was a good ball from Downing, who's definitely winning the battle on the left flank at the moment.

31' - Handball claims in the Cardiff box but it was too quick in my eyes for it to be a penalty.

31' - ADAM! So close! A low drive from Adam and it's just wide. Good effort.

33' - We're still piling forward but with not much intensity. Cardiff are defending well. Hopefully we can equalise before the second half, it's important that we do in honesty. 

36' - They just showed John W. Henry and his wife Linda in the stands. Man Linda is so hot. Lucky man. 

38' - GERRARD! Over the bar! Downing plays well again on the left flank, twisting and turning his defender out and he whips the ball into the box, Suarez, Carroll and Henderson all miss it and it comes to Gerrard outside the box and he shoots high above the bar. Great chance. 

41' - Suarez has been a nuisance a few times in the box today, but he's not controlling well enough to make opportunities to score. Hopefully he can continue though, he's a pain to deal with for defenders. He takes a shot in the end but it's tame and saved by Heaton. 

43' - Free kick, Gerrard takes it and it's inch perfect for AGGER who heads it straight at Heaton. Gutted, that was a great opportunity to equalise then. 

44' - Gerrard gets the ball in the box but can't control it and shoots high. Three defenders were in Gerrard's way. 

45' - One minute of added time. 

45+1' - Half time.

Well what happened? They got a goal, we couldn't score. Not much else to say in that respect. We've had a few chances but nothing clear cut, we haven't been clinical enough in front of goal. It's been the story of the season but if there's one match, one game of football where we need to right that wrong it's TODAY. We need to score. It's as simple as that. We haven't been bad but we haven't been good enough. Cardiff are defending very well. This needs to chance. I really hope we can avoid embarrassment today. Come on Reds! Please! 

48 ' - Miller! Just wide. Cardiff make a nuisance of themselves in and around our box and Milelr takes a chance from outside the box and it's just wide. Not the start we wanted, Cardiff are in our faces at the moment. 

49 ' - Suarez makes a nuisance on himself and intercepts the ball in the box! He shoots across the face of goal and it squirms under Heaton, then Cardiff clear! Unlucky! 

51' - Henderson is the first for a yellow card for a clumsy challenge. He's had a poor game today.

54' - The game is opening up a little, but we're still not really taking the game by the scruff of the neck yet. 

57' - Liverpool Substitution: Craig Bellamy comes on for Jordan Henderson. Says it all really. Henderson has been poor. Bellamy cheered by both sets of supporters due to his strong connection there. 

59' - GOAL! Martin Skrtel! Our eight corner of the match and Suarez gets on the end of it, it hits the post and then Skrtel shoots low into the box! Great finish!

61' - Finally, an equaliser. Hopefully we can now work for a second goal. No mistakes can be afforded now. 

63' - Skrtel's fourth goal of the season. He's had a brilliant season, both defensively and attacking for a defender. He's been a rock for us. Excellent player. Thanks Rafa! 

64' - Mason has a decent effort at goal, but it's met well by Reina. 

66' - The winds are definitely changing at the moment, we're really going for blood at the moment. It's about time, but we need to make sure we're not left open at the back. 

69' - A few more corners for us but with no end product. We're still the better side though. 

71' - Gerrard knocks a forearm into the back of Gunnarsson's head. The ref didn't see it, poor from our captain. I don't think it was intentional but it was dangerous. 

73' - 89,041 is the official crowd total today. Great work from both sets of supporters!

73' - SKRTEL! Great save from Heaton. It was a snap shot at short distance for Skrtel, that Heaton saves low  to. Good effort again!

74' - 21 shots on goal for us, and only 4 on target. Story of our season in a way, lots of effort but no product. But now is not the time to be negative, we need to score again! 

77' - Mark Hudson has gone down with cramp and we kick the ball out. Boos from some of the Reds faithful. Poor reaction from our own, we should respect things like this, if the boot was on the other foot we wouldn't like it if Cardiff continued. 

77' - DOWNING! Great save from Heaton! Downing takes a low driven shot through the Cardiff defence and Heaton just sees it in time to make the save. Great effort from Downing, who's been my man of the match so far for me. Great effort from Downing today. 

79' - Free kick in a dangerous area for Cardiff, Peter Whittingham shoots and it hits our defence and out. 

82' - TURNER! Just wide! Don Cowie whips the ball and it curls round the Reds and Turner heads the ball just wide. That could have been an upset if that went in, thankfully it didn't.

86' - Liverpool Substitution: Daniel Agger leaves the pitch with an injury, and Jamie Carragher takes his place. 

87' - MILLER! Just above the bar! Cardiff free kick and once again our defence is asleep and Cardiff take advantage, Miller shoots hard and high and thankfully it was just over the bar. Come on Reds! Seriously! 

89' - Free kick for Cardiff and Jamie Carragher doesn't give them the ball! I think his message was because we weren't ready to defend the kick.

90' - Four minutes of added time.

90' - Suarez is on his own up front and is onside! Three Cardiff defenders catch up with him and he takes a shot that's well over the bar.

91' - Corner for Liverpool and it's passed to Johnson who sets Gerrard up for a belter outside the box and it's over the bar. Good idea, but its execution wasn't what it should have been. 

94' - Ten seconds remain and Gerrard delivers a long ball to Downing who puts his hands in his face because he failed to control the cross. Full time. 

Thirty minutes of added time to go now. The main thing is we got the equaliser. We still have one substitution left, Cardiff have all three. You have to give it to Cardiff, they've worked their asses off today to get to extra time. But we need to finish this match off. I really don't want it to go to penalties, despite being confident in a shootout situation. I want us to win on goals scored not penalties. Let's hope we can finish them off in these 30 minutes. Come on Liverpool!

90' - Cardiff Substitution: Filip Kiss comes on for Joe Mason.

90' - Bellamy takes a corner and SUAREZ heads it and Andrew Taylor clears it off the line! So close again! 

91' - Gerrard shoots from outside the box again and once again it's well over the bar. He's not been very clinical today our captain. I dare say he's not had the greatest of games in honesty, but we need him on that pitch that's for sure, in games like this.

94' - Free kick, Gerrard takes it and Suarez frees from his marker and volleys just wide. He was offside anyway, but great movement from the Uruguayan. 

97' - That's an odd statistic, Kuyt has the longest Liverpool career without winning a medal since Emlyn Hughes, in six years without a metal. It's true though, since he joined we haven't won any trophies. 

98' - Kiss gets a yellow card after his little tussle with Craig Bellamy.

99' - Cardiff Substitution: Mark Hudson comes off and Anthony Gerrard comes on, whose cousin is our captain Steven.

102' - Downing takes another corner and Carroll heads it backwards towards goal, a good effort. That's his last touch of the match.

102' - Liverpool Substitution: Andy Carroll comes off and Dirk Kuyt comes on. Carroll's had a mixed game, not as good as recent weeks. 

103' - BELLAMY! Just over the bar! A great one-two with Kuyt and he makes some space and curls a right footer just over the bar. Best effort from the Welshman so far. 

105' - One minute of added time. 

105' - JOHNSON! Just wide again. Lovely work from Adam who set up Johnson, his shot was nice and clean but just wide. 

105+1' - Half time.

Nothing much different to report, it's been pretty much all Liverpool with no end product. It feels destined for penalties, the way it feels at the moment. Hopefully that won't be the case, and we can score in the next fifteen minutes. 

Cardiff Substitution: Kevin McNaughton comes off in place for Darcy Blake. Cardiff and Liverpool have now made all their substitutions.

106' - Kuyt loses his defender and is free! He puts the ball square across the penalty box and it's just slightly behind Suarez, who tries to adjust but can't. Great effort from Kuyt, unfortuante of Suarez not to be positioned correctly!

107' - GOAL! KUYT! COME ON KUYT GET IN THERE! Kuyt shoots and a defender clears poorly back to him, and he shoots hard and low to the bottom corner!

110' - We need to be patient and careful now. We can't let this lead slip. 

113' - Haha, sorry, you've got to love OptaJoke on Twitter, check this tweet:

"55 - Dirk Kuyt's first attempt on goal was going 55 metres wide. Rebound."

Follow OptaJoke @OptaJoke, they're really funny.

115' - Cardiff are on top at the moment, trying their best to equalise. We're defending well enough at the moment, but they've just won a corner. 

117' - GOAL! Ben Turner. Three corners in succession for Cardiff, they almost score from the second corner and Kuyt clears it off the line, but that third corner was the same, we couldn't clear and they bumble it into the box. Penalties loom.

120' - One minute of added time. 

120+1' - Full time. Penalties.

Amazing match, Cardiff have been amazing. Penalties now. I can't believe this match. I'll cover the penalties on this site as well. I'm in bits at the moment. Horrible feeling, although as I said I'm comfortable with penalties, Reina is usually very good at penalties.

  • Gerrard to take first. SAVED! Tom Heaton! Amazing save! Gerrard top corner and it was amazingly met by Heaton! Instant pressure for Liverpool! 
  • Kenny Miller to take now. He hit the post and out! YES! 0-0 still! Stalemate still! 
  • Charlie Adam now... WELL OVER THE BAR! WHAT THE HELL!? 
  • Cowie now to take for Cardiff and it's in the goal! 1-0 to Cardiff on penalties. Not good. 
  • Kuyt now for Liverpool, come on Kuyt! Kuyt scores! Thankfully! Now we need Reina to save.
  • Rudy Gestede to take now for Cardiff... and it hits the post! 1-1 now after three attempts each! We're back in it! 
  • Stewart Downing now and he scores! We take the lead in penalties! 
  • Peter Whittingham now for Cardiff... he scores. 2-2 now with one penalty each remaining. 
  • Glen Johnson now to take. Come on Johnson! He scores! Cardiff NEED to score now! 
  • Anthony Gerrard now... and he misses! LIVERPOOL WIN THE CARLING CUP!
We did it! What a match! Emotions were everywhere and I'm so proud that we've won. Great credit to Cardiff who worked as hard as they could to cause the upset. We put in a lot of effort today and it felt like it wasn't going to happen, especially when we missed our first two penalties. But we did it, and hopefully this can now be the catalyst for more trophies. Hopefully we can win the FA Cup later on this season. It's about time we won a trophy. Now we want more! Carling Cup winners. Amazing. Thanks for joining me today and if you're a Liverpool fan, enjoy your celebrations!

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