Good afternoon It's been six years since Liverpool won a trophy and for fans of omens it had been six years since their previous trophy when they won the League Cup in 2001 against Football League opposition in Birmingham. Kenny Dalglish has been self-effacing in the build-up, telling reporters that the personal landmark of matching his playing record and winning all three domestic trophies as a manager is irrelevant and playing up instead that a win today would represent a good staging post in his rebuilt team's development.
I've been looking back to Liverpool's first of seven victories in this competition, when they defeated West Ham in a replay at Villa Park in 1981. That year they finished fifth in the league (behind Aston Villa, Ipswich, Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion) but overcame the injuries that blighted their campaign to win the League Cup and European Cup. The first match at Wembley was an ill-tempered affair, "those anticipating champagne," wrote David Lacey, "got two hours of keg bitter". It was 0-0 two minutes from the end of extra time when Alan Kennedy put Liverpool ahead, a goal disputed by West Ham as Sammy Lee was on the floor in an offside position but not, in the judgment of the referee Clive "The Book" Thomas, interfering with play. Ray "Tonka" Stewart levelled in the last minute from the spot. In the replay 17 days later Paul Goddard scored to make it 1-0 to the Hammers before Kenny Dalglish equalised with a fine volley and then Alan Hansen scored the winner, his header taking a deflection off Billy Bonds's knee, making it impossible for the Guardian to resist headlining the match report: "It's Hansen, knee and boomps-a-daisy."
That was the first of four successive League Cup wins for Liverpool, furnishing the great Bob Paisley with a couple of wry lines: "Yes, going to Wembley and that. It's the only exercise I get, walking out there." And: "I'm surprised they don't charge me rent and rates."
A quick glance back at Cardiff's finest hour, the 1927 FA Cup final victory over Arsenal, gives an interesting flavour of how oddly peripheral football was back then to the national newspapers. The following morning The Observer devoted a single column to the game, focusing far more on the guest of honour and his entourage than the action: "His Majesty was attended by the Earl of Derby, Lord Herschell, the Hon Sir Derek Keppel, Colonel Clive Wigram and Sir Bryan Godfrey-Faussett. In the neighbourhood of the Royal box were a number of prominent people, including the Lord Mayor of London, the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, the Mayor of Islington, Mr and Mrs Winston Churchill, Mr Lloyd George and his daughter Megan, Dr Macnamara, Sir William Edge and many representatives of the Houses of Parliament."
The report then mentions the half-time music programme, the baton stylings of the conductor, the two singings of the national anthem and the FA party in full before finally mentioning "there was no scoring until half past four, when, amid great excitement Cardiff got the only goal of the match. The cheering was tremendous. Rattles were sounded and Cardiff supporters were wild in their enthusiasm. Lewis, the Arsenal goalkeeper, went down on his knees to save a shot from Ferguson. He got to the ball, but in endeavouring to clear, threw it into his own goal. Thus the match was won."
"Thus the match was won." That's a pay-off to match any I've ever read.
As for today, as a supporter of a Championship team, I've watched far more of Cardiff in the flesh this season than Liverpool and have been hugely impressed with Don Cowie and Aron Gunnarsson while Peter Whittingham has been a stand-out player for about the past five years. Malky Mackay was a hugely resilient player, helping two clubs to promotion – Norwich and West Ham – but jettisoned before he had a chance to play in the Premier League for them. He then did it a third time and was rewarded at the age of 34 by making his English top-flight debut for Watford. Given Cardiff have adopted a different investment policy from the one favoured in the Peter Ridsdale years, he's done sterling work this season in fashioning a new and resourceful team.
It will be interesting to see which starting XI Kenny Dalglish picks this afternoon and where he chooses to deploy Steven Gerrard. The pre-match vibes suggest he'll be in the two in front of the back four alongside Charlie Adam and that Luis Suárez will be in the hole behind Andy Carroll. I'm not sure if that gets the best out of the captain and it would put him up against Whittingham which would in theory curb his forward runs. I'm also hearing that Andy Carroll was the only member of the matchday squad to emerge from the tunnel not wearing a suit but shorts and a training top which may suggest a late fitness test.
Good works news. Six Liverpool fans are running the 76 miles from Hillsborough to Anfield, beginning on 12 April to raise funds for the families of the Hillsborough Disaster and to help those who continuing the quest for justice for the 96 victims. You can read more about their endeavours here.
I'll be back with the teams as soon as we get them.
Rather preoccupied with the north London derby before officially kicking off this live blog at 3.30pm. The old Arsenal fanzine, 1-0 down, 2-1 up!, needs a new name: 2-0 down, 5-2 up!
Cardiff City: Heaton; McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor; Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Cowie, Gestede, Miller, Mason
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Gerrard, Adam; Henderson, Suárez, Downing, Carroll.
Subs to follow.
Sadly some photos are appearing on the Getty Images wire showing a Cardiff City fan bleeding from a head wound following a fight with some Liverpool fans on the concourse outside Wembley.
"Shouldn't this be on Channel 5?" asks Gary Naylor. Given they're usually better than FA Cup finals perhaps that ought to be the one getting the Richard Desmond treatment.
Those elusive substitutes:
Cardiff: Marshall, Gerrard, Conway, Kiss, Blake, Naylor, Earnshaw.
Liverpool: Doni, Kelly, Carragher, Maxi, Kuyt, Spearing, Bellamy.
Which means that Bellamy's impact, if it comes, will be from the bench. Mark Hudson paid eloquent testament on his ongoing impact with the Bluebirds in Wales on Sunday this morning:
"By the second half of the season he was absolutely electric. That came from working hard and that's something he really impressed upon all of us.
"He built our training levels up; the level of professionalism from being such good and big clubs all came with him.
"He brought the things he'd learned along his career and on the international scene and helped change things which we all appreciated and still do because it's only going to make us better players.
"From simple things like timings to the level of respect he had for others and the want to better yourself, it all oozed out of him without him having to say much. It's still having an impact."
I'm watching this on the BBC. Other channels are available but it's such a rare occurrence that I thought I'd better tune in to the Alans. It's actually more because I like Guy Mowbray. The pitch is covered, each half in stripes of fabric – red and white for Liverpool, blue and white for Cardiff. Will there be fireworks when they walk out. If so, what's the point. If you have to make a spectacle of the final you can't be very confident about the er, "product".
Ah, no. It was those bursts of flame instead, like a 1920s ball when the car comes up the drive. See Sunday night TV dramas for more.
"Am I the only nervous Liverpool fan out here?" asks Chris Cheetham. "Or is it because I remember Wimbledon?" Could be, Chris. I'm not a Twitter burbler myself but checking the feeds with a hashtag of lfc or YNWR, most seem pretty confident. Here's Adam Hirst with a riff on the same theme: "Can Liverpol raise themselves one more time and humiliate themselves against Cardiff today? I'm not sure they have the strength of character to mess it up yet again to be honest. Good to see that Coca-Cola are paying homage to the Sheffield derby match with those stripes on the pitch."
"Did they just come onto the pitch to Mötorhead?" asks Dave Crook. Spotter's badge for Dave. They did indeed. Lemmy's Walsall isn't he?
1 min: Cardiff throw after Jose Enrique knocks it out of play, Liverpool cut it out but Taylor picks it up on the left and crosses into the box and Liverpool clear.
2 min: Gerrard breaks, cutting infield from the right on a 40-yard dash, taps it out to Downing on the left who squares it to Glen Johnson in the inside left position. He opens his body and curls a right-foot shot on to the post. Lovely strike.
4 min: As Adam Hirst points out, that was a Ronnie Whelanesque shot from Johnson. Whittingham has time in the centre to tap it out to Gunnarsson but Liverpool are harrying the man in possession like crazy and they win the ball back when Cardiff play it backwards. The cross is aimed for Carroll who leaps to head but is penalised for using his arms to get up there.
6 min: Downing makes progess up the left and when McNaughton comes to close him down, Downing beats him with a himmy but the cross doesn;t get past the second man and it's knocked away for a corner. Gerrard sticks it on Carroll's head but it's deflected away for another which Haeton catches via Skrtel.
8 min: Cardiff cannot keep hold of the ball in Liverpool's half for more than a touch or two so far and consequently Liverpool can mount attacks which are coming thick and fast.
10 min: "I found quite disappointing that the national anthem was not played." says Ken Walton. "Cup finals are all about such traditions and this occasion is poorer for it. What's the point of an anthem if its not used on such occasions?" The Football League were put off by the booiing in 2008 of both anthems, I think. So ditched it. Good move from Cardiff when Mason up the touchline plays it back to Taylor. He finds Cowie who has made a clever run beyond Gerrard and rolls it to Miller who blasts his shot wide.
12 min: Charlie Adam gives away a trademark free-kick which Heaton knocks 60 yards and cedes possession straight back to Liverpool who shift it to the right to Gerrard. His deep cross to the back post is headed behind by McNaughton. Carroll again foulds when jumping to reach the corner. That's two from three corners so far.
14 min: Gestede, a left-field choice, has hardly had a kick so far and a ball intended for him, hit diagonally from the right, skips out of play. Skrtel takes the throw and Liverpool, benefitting from the huge amount of time they've got to play given Cardiff are not closing them down at all, go up the right, pass it backwards to Adam. He crosses to the far post where Carroll gets his head on it but cannot get his neck turned quickly enough to direct it on target.
17 min: Couple of bits of fairly inept play, Adam curling a pass straight at Hudson when Enrique was better placed outside him and then Miller makes a strange attempt to trap the ball on the jump in the centre circle and gives it away.
GOAL!! Cardiff 1-0 Liverpool (Mason) Seconds after another Carroll header is saved Cardiff break up the right. McNaughton crosses and Skrtel gives it straight back to him. This time he rolls it along the floor to Miller on the 18-yard line and he threads a cute pass to Mason running diagonally into the box from the right and he taps it through Reina from eight yards. Totally against the run of play.
21 min: If you can't see the goal description, push F5. " … and welcome to the life of a Liverpool fan," groans Matt Dony. "Battered Man City in the semi, concede nonsense goal to 2nd-tier opposition in the final. Happy days …"
23 min: Sharp turn from Suárez on the left of the Cardiff box but McNaughton stands up and lets the ball run out for a goalkick instead of letting the forward spin round him.
25 min: Downing makes scurrying charge up the left, not quite beating McNaughton for pace so he improvises and flicks it with his heel square to Suárez who crosses to the right side of the box. Carroll heads it back to Johnson on the edge of the box and he tries a Milleresque threaded pass but Henderson had strayed offside.
27 min: Poor pass from Enrique, knocked casually crossfield, surrenders momentum. They keep making gains upfield into promising positions but the last pass has three times let them down.
30 min: Cross from Downing, who is having a decent day as an orthodox left-winger, curls towards the middle of the six-yard box after he got round McNaughton. But only Carroll is striding into the box and he can't get there quick enough. A minute later Enriqué tries a curler but the execeution isn't as good as his imagination and it putters two yards wide.
32 min: Liverpool shout for a penalty when the ball appears to hit Taylor's hand but the referee doesn't agree. When the ball comes back out to the right Johnson's cross is teed up by Hudson's clearnce for Adam to shoot and he drills a left-foot shot inches wide of Heaton's left post.
34 min: The replay shows the ball didn't hit Taylor's hand, it went between his arm and side, brushing the shirt above his hip.
36 min: Cardiff gift Liverpool a corner when Gunnarsson didn't get a shout to tell him Adam's mishit cross was hopeless and no one was behind him. He heads it behind. Gerrard takes a booming corner to the far post, punched out by Heaton and when the ball breaks on the edge of the box Mason stoops to head it clear just as Skrtel tries to volley it. He's caught on the forehead and Cardiff are awarded a free-kick.
38 min: Good defending from Cardiff when Liverpool try to dance through the defence. Johnson's long pass found Carroll who laid it back to Suárez. The Uruguayan poked a through pass around the corner for Carroll to run on to but Cardiff are alive to it and cut out.
40 min: Rotten shot from Henderson, a terrible waste when Downing had turned McNaughton thsi way then that before crossing. Henderson running in from the right has a claer opportunity but shins it 15 yards over. "Is that seven passes Suarez has misplaced so far?" asks Jarrod Clyne. "Liverpool's final ball has been woeful, a sad state of affairs if they can't breakdown a Championship defence." He's not playing at all well, Jarrod. It's as if he can't read Carroll's runs.
42 min: … which may be an indication of Carroll's runs. He does have a shot, though, which Heaton saves down to his left after Suárez cuts back to the left while heading right and makes himself a channel to shoot through the middle. He opts to hit it with the outside of his right foot rather than his left and Heaton gets down to it.
44 min: Somewhere Ron Yeats is going barmy. Agger gets the sort of free header in the box from Gerrard's free-kick that gets centre-halves salivating. He meets it well and nods it tamely straight at Heaton.
45 min+1: A rare Cardiff attack is halted when Reina gathers Mason's cross. He delivers the ball up the field to Henderson who attempts a 40-yard crossfield pass … and hits it behind José Enriqué and straight out of play. He's been dreadful today.
Half time: I'm off to get some water. Back in five minutes. As someone who watches Liverpool infrequently (for the full 90 rather than the highlights) I'd like to know if Henderson is having an atypically bad game or is this how he's been for the most?
Your correspondence: Well ours too, there's an interactive gallery for you to peruse here. Phil Sawyer is turning to drink: "Suarez and Henderson have done the square root of bu¢¢er all. Unfortunately, when you look at the Liverpool bench, apart from Bellamy there are no game changers on there. I can see Cardiff winning this 2-0. I think it's time for me to start on a couple of pints of Game Changer to cope." Chin, chin Phil. Or get it down yer. Lemmy's an Oatcake eater, by Dave Crook's estimation. Thanks Dave and for the umlaut correction. Here's Andy Chappell on Jordan Henderson: "Henderson's not a bad player he just doesn't do anything. A bit of a phantom who just floats through games. I'm still trying to figure how he replaced the likes of Meireles and Maxi." Roy Allen has a view, too: "I've seen a few Liverpool games this season (maybe 6-8) and Henderson, Downing and Carroll have been the Unholy Trinity of Crapness in those games. In Carroll's defence, he has been improving; the other two have been getting worse." Excellent work from Steven Hughes who calls JH "The Anti Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite" a catchy nickname: "Hi Rob,
unlike The Beatles' immortal tune, this Henderson is never there and he never dances or sings either."
46 min: Here's Martin Vivers's half-time analysis: "Tough choices ahead for Kenny; something needs changed up front but which mis-firing frontman is playing worst?! He needs Bellamy on the pitch but does he take off Suarez, who seems to be specialising in breaking up Liverpool attacks? Does he sub Carroll, which is risky with Enrique and Downing getting a lot of the best chances to put the ball into the box? Or does he disrupt the midfield four and take off an anonymous Jordan Henderson and re-structure to a midfield three - negating Downing's threat? Very tough decisions for Kenny, particularly with Gerrard so subdued. Personally, I'd go for Bellamy and Kuyt on for Carroll and Adam; getting Henderson in the middle beside Gerrard and keeping Cardiff pressed back in the wide areas with Downing and Kuyt." And more from Phil Sawyer: "It's a pretty typical game for Henderson, Rob. His main trouble always seems to be that he doesn't know what position he's supposed to be playing. He doesn't work the wing assiduosly, but equally he doesn't drift infield enough to dictate the game from there or get forward enough to to bomb on into the box (he really should have been been running in behind Carroll for that great cross from Downing). How much of this is down to him and how much is down to Kenny I don't know. Mind you, you can't blame Kenny for him not even being able to hit the ball." No changes as yet.
47 min: Strange decision from Mark Clattenburg to bring Jose Enrique back to take a free-kick when he'd got past McNaughton. The ball goes into the box and falls to Henderson when it's headed away. He screws a weak shot miles wide.
49 min: Great move from Cardiff when Whittingham wriggles past Agger and threads a pass to Cowie who backheels it to Miller on the edge of the area. He hits a powerful low shot wide of Reina's right post.
51 min: Long driven diagonal cross from Adam is headed down by Carroll and Suárez battles well to get the ball back when he was second favourite. His touch takes him wide and though he manages to shoot on target Heaton parries it away and Carroll is on his heels and hadn't followed up.
53 min: Liverpool have got several crosses in this half but Cardiff have made two superb headed clearances to thwart them. Adam, though, has a shooting chance citting in in his left and it is deflected over the bar. When the corner comes in it breaks to Henderson on the edge of the box, he miscontrols it and fouls in his attempt to recover and is yellow carded. ""After that dismal shot from Henderson I think it's time to sling the
hook and put Bellers on," writes Anthony O'Connell. "For any grade of footballer that was awful."
55 min: This reeks of stubbornness from Kenny. It's as plain as anything that he needs to put Bellamy on and yet he still waits.
56 min: Gunnarsson takes a long throw into the box after Agger had cheaply and carelessly given away the ball. Reina punched it out but Hudson heads it back to the six-yard box where Gestede tries to back-head it into goal but Reina blocks him.
58 min: An excellently executed and brave tackle from McNaughton stops Suárez in the box to concede a corner. Off goes Henderson for Bellamy … at last … to a huge ovation from everyone.
60 min: It's too easy to focus on Liverpool's shortcomings but it would be unfair not to mention how well Cardiff are defending and tackling in particular, Cowie and McNaughton have broken up play on several occasions with well-timed interventions.
GOAL!! Cardiff 1-1 Liverpool (Skrtel) It comes from a corner that Carroll flicks on to Suárez on the left of the six-yard box> he screws his header across the face of the goal on to Heaton's left post and Skrtel does a Greavsie to poach the equaliser.
62 min: While the broadcaster was showing the replay of the goal three times Gestede ran on to a long ball and went to ground under Johnson's challenge, faling into the box. Malky Mackay was demanding a penalty but the touch was outside the box even if it was a foul, which I'm not sure it was.
64 min: Adam Hirst is polishing a fantasy: "OK then. How about Penalties, and Bellamy to put his decisive one into the Cardiff end, ensuring that he becomes a bigger hero in the Welsh capital then Gareth Edwards?" Surely not, Adam. Cardiff break forward and Mason shoots … unthreateningly and Reina gets it away to launch another Liverpool charge.
66 min: Suárez's neat feet allow him to wriggle free on the left deep in the box, too deep to make an angle to score but they get another chance when Johnson recovers the ball on the right and plays Bellamy through by the touchline where Heaton dives to give away a corner … which is wasted.
68 min: "Given the way the weekend's going for those west of the border, I'm worried that if Craig Bellamy scores the winner now, Welsh sport might simply implode at the paradoxical ecstasy of it all," writes Nick Parker. Who knew Mittyism was so rampant? Downing wins a corner which he takes himself and when it comes back to him he tries to turn Taylor but a heavy touch and a good block knock the ball out for a goalkick.
70 min: Suárez asks for a foul when tackled on the edge of the area but the referee waves play on, Hudson poking his leg through from behind to win the ball. Gunnarsson, in blocking Gerrard's run in the same move, is smashed in the face when the captain tries to run through him.
72 min: Downing, ostensibly on the right now, keeps wandering infield. Speaking of him, Phil Sawyer has noticed: "YHow much Downing looks like ex-England cricket captain Michael Vaughan. Perhaps those excruciating Advanced Hair Studios adverts should sneakily slip in a picture of Downing for the 'after' photo. Incidentally, could I revise my prediction? Cardiff to win 3-1."
74 min: It's time for the crowd sweepstake: 89,041. Check your tickets. From a corner Skrtel, at the back post, smacks a volley that Heaton saves smartly.
76 min: It's always fairly amusing to see a player as one-footed as Charlie Adam having to manipulate his body into all sorts of strange poisitions so he doesn't have to play the ball with his right foot. He's just done a couple of 270 degree turns. There's a lull while Mark Hudson gets treatment for cramp.
78 min: Stat watch, courtesy of Matt Dony while we wait for Hudson: "21 efforts on goal from Liverpool, and one goal to show for it. In a final. If ever one stat summed up a season, this is it." Make that 22 when Downing cuts in from the right to hit a left-foot shot low through the crowd that Heaton dives to his left and pushes away.
80 min: Free kick for Cardiff after Miller is fouled 22 yards from goal. Whittingham's shot hits the jumping wall and Cardiff have a throw which Gunnarsson hurls to the near post. Gestede flicks it on after a good run but Liverpool keep their line and head it away. In the melee Agger hits the deck when Turner pust his hand in his face. Free kick for Liverpool.
82 min: A view from a Blue, not necessarily endorsed by the MBMer: "Do Liverpool have the most players of any current club who flatter to deceive?" asks Gary Naylor. "Suarez looks like he should be a thirty goals a season man, but he's not really is he? Steven Gerrard looks like he should be the re-incarnation of Graeme Souness, breaking up attacks one minutes and playing killer balls the next. Andy Carroll has the tools to bully and dominate centre-halves, but he appears self-effacing, almost apologetic, on the field - like Peter Crouch ten years ago. Needless to say that Charlie Adam is a pretty low rent Xavi Alonso and I'm not sure what Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson are, despite them being capped for England at 19 and 20 respectively. Mind you, I'm an Evertonian and one sees what one wants to see in life. Reina's good though." Cardiff come close when Turner gets round the back of the defence to head a cross inches wide.
85 min: Suárez is free on the right after a Cardiff attack breaks down and he plays a pass across the 18-yard line to Adam who hammers a left-foot shot which Heaton dives to catch. Three Cardiff players have had treatment for cramp, which doesn't augur well for the potential of extra time. Turner's brave block of Suárez's cross makes that likelier.
87 min: Jamie Carragher comes on for Daniel Agger.
88 min: Kenny Miller has just missed agreat chance, made by his clever run when Liverpool were slow to react to a free-kick conceded by Gerrard. The ball was prodded through to him rushing into the inside-right channel but his half-volley, larruped with his laces, flies wide.
90 min: Carragher cynically fouls when Cardiff get lucky after the ball hits the ref and bounces away from the massed ranks of Liverpool players. Gestede was running though when the sub cleared him out a couple of yards inside the Liverpool half.
90 min+2: Now Suárez has a late chance but takes the ball too wide when it bounces a wee bit higher than he expected. He tries to compenstae by screwing a volley from the right to the far post but it drifts wide. Then Gerrard has a shot from 25 yards but he isn't ripe for the messiah pose just yet.
90 min+4: Last minute and Liverpool play it forward slowly from Reina's roll-out. Gerrard hits a crossfield pass to Downing on the right and his attempt at trapping it on his instep lumps the ball out for a throw instead.
Peep peep! Extra time here we come. Oh joy!
90 min emails: "As a Liverpool supporter I must completely and utterly agree with Gary Naylor, "writes Niall Mullen. "Bu$$er." Is "grit and determination" the new "time and time again" for Messrs Hansen and Sherarer? "OK, I'm now sat in near total darkness as I haven't dared change my watching conditions since Liverpool equalised," writes Phi Sawyer. "Do I switch the lights on and risk jinxing the Reds? Only soon you're going to be receiving emails largely consisting of Bllmannysgg goiotr sk fjeeedfe Geeertrttweard as I can barely see the keyboard anymore." Stay on the dark side, Phil.
91 min: Felipe Kiss comes on for Cardiff, replacing Joe Mason. Chris Cheetham wonders "How do I get instant, online tranquillisers?" The same place as the little blue pills, I'd suggest, Chris. Suárez is denied on the line when a crisp header from a corner hits Taylor stationed by the post.
92 min: The second corner is taken short by Bellamy to Enrique who squarse it to Gerrard. He belts a right-foot shot miles wide.
94 min: Súarez is fouled by McNaughton 30 yards from goal. Gerrard chips it into the box but Súarez is caught by the offside trap.
96 min: "The Guardian Patented Steven Gerrard Flay-o-meter has broken down into a smoking heap due to this kind of over processing," writes Edan Tal, which given I rarely get the chance to cover Liverpool, slightly bemuses me. Must do homework. "That's quite a trick that darkness would suddenly cause Phil Sawyer to type in Welsh," parps JR in Illinois.
98 min: Hudson is having to retreat with cramp, replaced by Anthony Gerrard. He's played very well the captain.
99 min: Downing again cuts in from the right flank, taking the ball too far infield really, then smacks his shot off-balance as the ball ran away from him, high and wide.
102 min: "Phil Sawyer has done more to endear me to Liverpool fans than anyone else before him," writes Jenny Sofia. "The thought of him sitting in the dark, nervously typing away is something I thought only United fans did. After United's second goal today, I forgot to tell my husband he could come out of the toilet (which is where he gets banished to if United need to score) and only remembered he was missing a whole half hour after the end of the match. I could tell you about the lucky bun loaf which secured England's winning streak at the World Cup in 1990, but then you would think I was mad." Liverpool corner delays the introduction of Dirk Kuyt, taken by Downing and Carroll gets on the end of it having leapt well. Sadly for him it's a difficult chance, running to meet the ball and having to try and glance it over his left shoulder. That was his last touch as he makes way for Kuyt.
104 min: Bellamy's best intervention. He storms up the left, beating two men and making 20 yards, plays a long one-two with Kuyt then curls his shot wide of Heaton's left post.
105 min: Another shot goes inches wide of the Cardiff goal, this latest one from Glen Johnson with his left foot from 20 yards.
Half time v2.0 A chance to sing andfor Liverpool fans to do the scarf aloft.
106 min: Liverpool have had the initiative in extra time, Cardiff defending in numbers, much as they have done for most of the game but without the breaks that kept Liverpool worrying. Darcy Blake comes on for Cardiff, replacing McNaughton.
GOAL!! Cardiff 1-2 Liverpool (Kuyt) He's made a couple of interventions with his greater energy on the right having only juts come on. He runs 10 yards, tries to find Suárez but his pass is blocked and deflects straight back to him and he steers it in with a fine finish that powers in at Heaton's left post.
109 min: John W Henry is bouncing in his seat. And his partner flashes her special red leather gloves. It's warm today, too.
111 min: This is going to be hard for Cardiff with a few of their players, Gunnarsson and Cowie suffering from cramp. But they have earned a throw in five yards from the corner flag when Turner turns a shot towards goal. The throw goes to the near post, Liverpool clear it but after Gunnarsson, reduced to a stroll by tired legs, taps it to Cowie, Liverpool clear their lines properly from his cross.
113 min: Bellamy gives Adam a rocket after an overhit pass.
115 min: At least Bellamy wasn't caught effing and jeffing like Gerrard 30 minutes ago, for which the BBC apologised. Here's David Wall's analysis of the Kuyt goal: "Has the (lack of) style of any goal ever more aptly captured a player's career? What a complete mess - a miscued shot, scuffed clearance, and uncontrolled toe-punt as he fell - but a decisive mess all the same."
117 min: Turner, who is now playing up front, wins a corner for Cardiff, their first of the matchj we think. Reina punches the inswinger clear for a throw and they eran another when Skrtel nods out Gunnarsson's howitzer.
GOAL!! Cardiff 2-2 Liverpool (Turner) Jesus. Seconds after Liverpool barely kept them out and conceded a third corner,scrambling the ball away after Reina's misjudgment, Turner prods the ball through the keeper's legs to level.
119 min: Now Liverpool have a corner after Kuyt's tenacity earns it for them but it's headed clear and wehen Liverpool put the ball back into the box Gunnarsson makes the intervention that gives away another corner. It's Gunnarsson who puts his body in the way to block the Liverpool charge.
Peep, peep! It's penalties. Cardiff have been excellent, truly excellent.
Penalty shoot out: The potatoes have never needed straining with such urgency. Liverpool will shoot first.
So it's 0-0 after round one.
Adam misses by a mile
Cardiff 1-0 up
1-1 after three each
2-2 after four each
Anthony Gerrard misses
Liverpool have won 3-2 on penalties
Full time: Rapture among the Liverpool fans. There were some shocking penalties in that bunch, none more so than Charlie Adam's. Gestede, knackered, was understandably tame. As were the Gerrard cousins. Here's Phil Sawyer: "The lights! So bright. So, so bright. I feel like Gollum."
Post-match: Nice words from Steven Gerrard for his cousin and for Cardiff. They were magnificent today, Liverpool stuttering but I doubt they'll care. The man of the match award has been given to Stewart Downing who was Liverpool's best player but I thought Ben Turner probably deserved it.
The money shot beckons for Steven Gerrard: Cardiff go up first, most of their players shattered physically and emotionally. Here come Liverpool, Gerrard leading the way with Jamie Carragher just behind him. Lots of handshakes for the captain who is finally given the nod to take the final flight. He applauds the Liverpool end then is given his medal and the trophy. He gives it a damn good shake and the streamers come down from the roof of the stand. This time it's not Motörhead but some banging tune. Thanks for all your emails today. Good night.