Jamie Carragher led the tributes to Andy Carroll after the beleaguered Liverpool striker scored a late winner at Wembley, to atone for the defender's mistake that gave Everton an interval lead.

"For me, that goal alone was worth £35m," Carragher said. "The mix-up for the Everton goal was just one of those things, but I was partly to blame so when Andy scored at the end the main feeling was just relief. I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if we had lost 1-0 because of my mistake.

"We didn't start the game all that well but we showed we have not lost the ability to come back. I don't think too many other teams would have been able to do that. David Moyes said the whole country wanted an Everton win, but I think he forgot that we have special fans who will always get behind us and believe."

Carroll said scoring a winner at Wembley was "the best feeling ever", especially given the opponents. "I had a few chances, I should probably have scored earlier," he admitted. "I have had my critics this season but I have always believed in myself and now I've got my chance in the side I have two goals in two games."

Kenny Dalglish was also congratulating himself on a double, accepting that Liverpool's league form was still a work in progress but arguing that two cup finals represents a real step forward. "League results haven't been great, but that's two cup finals in a season and one is already won," the Liverpool manager said. "We are very proud. There's no need to question whether we deserved the win or not, the result was 2-1. The application and intent of the players was there for all to see. We may not be the finished article in the league, but having come this far in the Cup we wanted to take that step further."

So did Everton, who faded badly at the end but were leading until they countered Carragher's expensive first-half mistake with one of their own. Sylvain Distin underhit a back pass so badly to let Luis Suárez in for the equaliser that he literally held up his hands to the Everton fans at the final whistle, as well as apologising via Twitter. "He was really down in the dressing room after the game," Moyes said. "He's been here before, he's won the Cup with Portsmouth, so he knows what it means. I thought we had a great chance here today and I thought we played well enough in the first half, but Liverpool certainly improved in the second. A couple of defensive mistakes changed the game. It wasn't just Sylvain for the equaliser, it was a poor decision to concede the free-kick that led to the winner."

Even in his disappointment Moyes was able to find a flicker of humour. When it was pointed out to him that Liverpool always seem to have the edge in cup meetings between the Merseyside rivals and Everton have now been waiting for over a century to record a win over their neighbours in a final or a semi, Moyes allowed himself the thinnest of smiles. "That almost feels like consolation," he said. "At least it's not just been me."