For the second time in a week, Andy Carroll was the late hero for Liverpool, as the Reds reach the FA Cup final
Here it is, then: the fifth all-Merseyside FA Cup semi-final. So shall we start at the beginning?
The two teams first met at this stage in March 1906: Everton 2–0 Liverpool. Tom Watson's Red Men were on the way to the title. No double, though. Liverpool's star duo Jack Cox and Sam Raybould were injured, and mid-table Everton took advantage at Villa Park. The local crowd were cheering on Everton winger Jack Sharp, formerly of Aston Villa, soon to be a Test batsman with England, and saw him set up two goals in two second-half minutes: a Billy Dunlop own goal, and a Harold Hardman floater. "If Everton had not scored their first most lucky goal," reported the Manchester Guardian, "the game might have run its course to a goalless finish, and everybody would have classed it the dreariest semi-final in memory." Everton went on to win the final against Newcastle, the winning goal scored by Sandy Young, later convicted for shooting dead his brother – who had been milking a cow at the time.
The Reds repaid the favour 44 years later in March 1950: Liverpool 2–0 Everton. The most notable Toffee at Maine Road was future manager Harry Catterick. But it was Liverpool boss-to-be Bob Paisley who scored the crucial opening goal, a lob from the left-hand corner of the area that found its way into the right-hand corner of the net. Billy Liddell cracked in a second, and the Reds were on their way to Wembley. The resulting celebrations on the highways and byways of Manchester were reported thus: "Some confused eightsome reels were performed in the streets, and the rattles were overworked."
Twenty-one years later, and Liverpool made it two wins at the semi-final stage to one, with an identical scoreline: Liverpool 2–1 Everton. The Blues took an early lead through Alan Ball, then spent the entire first half sending Bill Shankly's side scuttling hither and yon. At one point, Larry Lloyd took such a wild kick at Joe Royle that, as Eric Todd in this paper reported, "if it had connected, Royle would not have finished the season, let alone the match". Royle repaid Lloyd by clearing the Liverpool defender's header off the line. But in the second half the tables turned, Alun Evans equalising, Brian Hall scoring the winner. Everton had capitulated in the second half, although Ball had battled desperately against the turning tide. The Liverpool fans sang You'll Never Walk Alone. "If anyone should give Ball a record of that song," wrote Todd, "I for one will understand if he breaks it over the donut's head."
And finally, the 1977 semi, and its resulting replay, at Maine Road: Liverpool 2–2 Everton; Liverpool 3–0 Everton. Gotta love old Joy of Six Merseyside derby articles!!!
Ten days after losing a marathon League Cup final replay to Aston Villa, Everton came out with renewed vigour in the semi-final of England's other cup competition. Not that Gordon Lee's side needed much in the way of geeing up: the opposition was Liverpool, who were closing in on a treble of league, FA Cup and European Cup. And Everton were surely due one: since winning 1-0 at Goodison in November 1971, they'd failed to beat Liverpool in 10 games. They'd also failed to score in the first eight of those, a period that lasted a month shy of five years. (In fairness, that run of results also included four goalless draws on the bounce, but nonetheless at least Liverpool bookended those games with 1-0 victories, scoring at a heady rate of just over 0.33 goals per match.) When Martin Dobson finally scored against the Reds in October 1976, a fine 25-yard swerver, Liverpool were already two up, and on their way to a 3-1 win. Yes, it's fair to say that statistically at the very least, Everton were due one.
They didn't get one, though they should have. The game at Maine Road was a tumultuous affair. Terry McDermott opened the scoring with the BBC goal of the season, hip-shaking exquisitely past Mick Buckley, shifting the ball to his left with his right heel, then lifting a gorgeous chip over David Lawson from the edge of the area. Duncan McKenzie equalised, the teams level at half time. With 17 minutes to go, Jimmy Case headed Liverpool back in front, but McKenzie refused to let it lie, powering down the inside-right channel, his weaving run drawing the entire Liverpool defence out to him. Having pulled Liverpool to ribbons, he crossed low for Bruce Rioch to tap home.
And then the moment still guaranteed to send Everton fans of a certain age into orbit. Three minutes from the end, a superb reverse pass down the left wing sent Ronnie Goodlass scampering into space. He dropped a shoulder and powered past Case, clipping a cross towards the near post for McKenzie, who stooped to flick on for Bryan Hamilton. Hamilton guided the ball into the bottom-right corner of the goal with his front tail, Ray Clemence wincing in agony at the jig being up for Liverpool. But the referee Clive Thomas came to Liverpool's aid, chalking the goal up for – well, what, exactly? Thomas has never explained his decision, initially thought to be for hand ball, but later assumed to be for offside. Replays conclusively show that either decision would be palpably wrong. Liverpool went on to win the replay, but not the cup. Still, a league and European Cup double wasn't to be sniffed at, one game short of a historic treble, in the days when you had to win the title first in order to give it a shot.
Any other notable stats? Well, Liverpool have won both FA Cup finals played between the teams – in 1986 and 1989. But Everton have won the last two FA Cup ties between the sides: the most recent was ITV's Dan Gosling Tic-Tac Time in 2009; the one before was a 1-0 win at Goodison thanks to Dave Watson in 1991, which of course came in the wake of that 4-4 draw and Kenny Dalglish's subsequent resignation as manager of Liverpool. Oh, and one last relevant statistic: Liverpool have lost six of their last nine league games, while Everton have won three of their last four. For all Liverpool's edge in history – the final victories, the upper hand in the semis, nine FA Cup tie wins to seven – it's Everton who have the better recent form. And it may be that form which carries them back to Wembley on May 5 for the 131st FA Cup final. But having said all that... Liverpool beat Everton 3-0 almost exactly one month ago – and have won four out of the last six derbies. The conclusion? This could go either way. This is on!
The Howard Webb Show will be brought to you by: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).
Howard Webb presents Liverpool, who recall Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger and Stewart Downing, and have Brad Jones making his first start of the season in goal: Jones, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Henderson, Gerrard, Spearing, Downing, Suarez, Carroll.
Subs: Gulacsi, Jose Enrique, Maxi, Kuyt, Shelvey, Kelly, Bellamy.
Mr H Webb introduces a full-strength Everton, with Tim Cahill, Nikica Jelavic, Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin and Darron Gibson all named: Howard, Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Osman, Gibson, Fellaini, Gueye, Cahill, Jelavic.
Subs: Hahnemann, Hibbert, Jagielka, Stracqualursi, McFadden, Coleman, Anichebe.
The teams are out! There is a blistering atmosphere at Wembley. This already feels like a real semi-final. A proper throwback, in the best sense of the word. Phil Neville leads his Everton team out, wearing the famous blue and white. Steven Gerrard is at the head of the Liverpool line, wearing the famous red. Both men present bouquets of flowers to Jan Spearritt, who lost her 14-year-old son, Adam, in the tragedy. Then a warm round of applause, and a rousing chant of "Justice for the 96".
A moment's silence to commemorate the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. Howard Webb blows his whistle, and a jumping Wembley falls instantly silent. The Hillsborough Justice Campaign needs you, whoever you support. Some things transcend football's petty tribal differences, as this perfectly observed silence demonstrates. Justice for the 96. Also a moment to consider Gary Ablett, who died earlier this year, and is the only man to have won this trophy with both clubs.
And we're off! Everton get the ball rolling. Liverpool soon force it out of play. Within 37 seconds, Luis Suarez tears clear of the Everton back line, in acres in the opposition half, but though Henderson's pass is well judged, it catches the striker offside. What an atmosphere. Suffice to say, Wembley is cooking on a sunny north London day.
3 min: Johnson slides a pass down the inside-right channel for Carroll, who bombs into the box, checks, and rolls a pass back to the edge of the area for Spearing. The midfielder has never scored for Liverpool, and by God it shows as he opens his body and sidefoots an awful effort miles over the bar. A promising start for Liverpool, though.
5 min: Everton haven't quite settled yet, but suddenly they string a few passes together. Jelavic twists down the inside-left channel, is checked by Gerrard, and then clattered by Agger, who is very lucky to escape a yellow card. That was pretty agricultural. This is a free kick, just to the left of the D, 25 yards out.
6 min: Baines looks to curl the set piece into the top-left corner. It's a good effort, but not a brilliant one, and curls just over the bar. Jones - who looked very nervous against Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night, despite saving a penalty with his first touch - had that covered, though.
9 min: Liverpool come back at Everton, stringing a few passes together in the opposition half. Carroll looks to bustle across the face of the box, from left to right, but can't get a shot away before losing control. Neither side appears to be enjoying the sensation of calmness. No real shape to the game yet. So with little to report, here's Scott Reid on the demise of the rattle: "Re: the celebrations of March 1950. 'Some confused eightsome reels were performed in the streets, and the rattles were overworked.' Although the practice of 'confused eightsome reels' is clearly the root phenomenon for Street Dance 2 3D, it gives one pause to contemplate the demise of the rattle. It's time for rattles to come back. One could argue for their place in the Celtic/eldritch/Hibernican folk-jazz repertoire - a form of non-classically trained street percussion. Julie Holter or Joanna Newsom could wave one about about at gigs." I'm all for moving back to the 1950s. Rattles, small children in flat caps eating their packed lunch, small children in flat caps smoking 20 untipped cheroots before the kick-off. Let's draw the line at a return for rickets, even if it means it'll be a wee bit less verisimilitudinous.
11 min: This game really is a shapeless mess at present. Evertonian celebrities in the stand: Dame Judi Dench, Amanda Holden, and Tommy Steele, the latter no doubt Singin' The Blues. "You can tell it's a big game when you have a wally with a mic yelling inanities to whip up fake excitement," opines Roy Allen. "There's absolutely no need to tell fans what a big game it is. And we can do without the bloody piped musak too. Also, when Howard Webb does his sprinting-to-the-scene-of-the-foul routine. 'I'm in control. No, really, I am....'"
14 min: Suarez has been quiet so far, but now he rolls Distin down the inside-right channel, and is upended by a clumsy leg. He bought that brilliantly, a no-lose situation; if he wasn't fouled, he'd have been running into the box with the ball at his feet. This is a free kick in a dangerous situation, on the edge of the area, by the right-hand corner. Agger witlessly slaps it straight into the wall, but the ball comes back to Gerrard, who curls in a cross. The ball ends at the feet of Skrtel, who scored at Wembley in the Carling Cup final of course. No such heroics this time, though his low shot towards the bottom right is decent. Howard is behind it all the way. Skrtel started his career as a striker, incidentally. Perhaps he should swap places with the big lad up front?
17 min: Osman scuttles and harries down the inside-left, and forces a corner. Gueye sends the set piece in. Distin goes up for a header, six yards out. He misses, and clatters into Carragher. Free kick. Not much in that. Everton aren't happy, as the ball had landed at the feet of Jelavic, free ten yards out, just to the right of goal. "What on earth has happened to Agger's hair?" splutters J.R. in Illinois, with reference to the Dane's "trendy" mohican. "Did it get caught in some type of machinery or is he just angling for a transfer to Arsenal?"
20 min: Brilliant one-two between Neville and Osman down the right. Neville's released into space in the box, but he doesn't have the confidence to take a first time shot. After painstakingly lining himself up, his eventual effort is blocked, though it deflects into the centre for Jelavic, who scissor kicks goalwards with his back to goal. Great effort, but no pace, and Jones is behind it to claim. Meantime here's our old pal Ryan Dunne, fan of erstwhile football concern Rangers: "I know that photo's meant to be sweet and convivial, but surely I can't be the only one who thinks that, when two Glasweigans have their heads that close together, it usually leads to a Mailer-on-Vidal style headbutt?" Even our literary references are cheap and base.
23 min: Suarez is on the shoulder of Heitinga, who doesn't look comfortable with the arrangement. The striker rolls away down the inside-left channel after a long ball, but is flagged offside. "Imagine, for a moment, if you will, that you'd not seen enough of Liverpool this season to know what Kenny's first choice XI is (perhaps you haven't, I don't know)," begins Rob Marriott. "Wouldn't you think that playing Henderson and Downing instead of the gifted-but-ageing Bellamy and Maxi indicates a weakened team, perhaps pointing to some vital midweek game to come? I'm baffled, I really am."
25 min: KEYSTONE KOPS GOAL!!! Liverpool 0-1 Everton. This is ridiculous defending by Liverpool, and brilliant finishing by Jelavic. A ball down the middle, for Carragher to deal with. The defender - who is over, let's face it - doesn't bother. After dithering and dallying, Agger holding his arms open to show him a route out, he eventually hoofs a hopeless clearance straight at Cahill. The ball breaks to Jelavic, on the spot, and the striker strokes a clean finish into the bottom-right corner. Wembley erupts, half in celebration, half in spluttering disbelief. Oh Jamie!
28 min: Liverpool up their game with immediate effect. Gerrard slides a ball down the left for Downing, who whips a decent ball across the area. Carroll can't get in front of his man to meet it with his head. Suarez, on the far post, isn't in a position to meet the ball. "Rickets has already made a Tom Jones 'Kiss' style comeback," reports Dr Niall Mullen. "Take your Vitamin D supplements kids."
30 min: A bit of space down the right for Suarez. He zips down the wing and slides a low cross into the centre. Gerrard is busting a lung to get on the end of it, but Neville has a yard on him, and clears brilliantly. Liverpool have raised the temperature since conceding, but Everton are looking comfortable enough. "Turns out, yes, Agger is indeed looking to impress Arsenal ready for a move," writes Matt Dony. "Hair? Check. Comedy defending? Check."
31 min: A replay of the goal, and you can argue that, when the ball rebounds off Cahill, Jelavic's kneecap is about 0.00000000001cm offside. Technically, yes. But there's no way the linesman should be raising his flag at that, giving the advantage instead to the attacker. You may hear Liverpool complaining about it, you may not. It'd be a real exercise in straw-clutching if they did so, though. "I think you're being a litle unfair to the Keystone Cops (25 mins)," opines Fraser Thomas.
33 min: Osman drifts in from the right, exchanges passes with Cahill on the edge of the area, and cocks his leg to shoot. Henderson tracks back to nip past his shoulder and make off with the ball. Brilliant defensive midfield work. But Liverpool are leaving a lot of space on the edge of their area for Everton to exploit. Carragher, a great meat-and-spuds defender in his day, has gone, I'm afraid.
35 min: Downing goes on a sortie down the left, only to leave the ball behind. He goes back for it, and eventually wins a corner. Downing takes it; cleared. Downing swings a cross in; claimed by Howard. That's Stewart Downing in microcosm, right there: a lot of huff and puff and effort, for next to no end product.
37 min: Gerrard takes a swipe from distance. It goes miles over the bar. In the build-up to that waste of time, Distin palms Suarez in the face. Howard Webb bounds over and waves a yellow card in the Everton defender's phizog. "Is there not a knacker's yard that'd take Carragher off Liverpool's hands?" asks Christopher Bannister. "He even looks out of place in the kit, as if Jay Spearing's let his dad join in."
39 min: Downing takes a gander down the right this time, and whips a majestically hopeless ball through the Everton box and out of play on the right. There's a possibility that might have been a shot. "A quick look on Twitter accounts of Fleet Street's finest suggests that Agger is as much to blame for the goal as their bosom buddy Jamie Carragher," reports Sasu Laaksonen. "You probably could make it up, but you would then be considered insane. Up the 4th Estate." Aye. Agger hesitated too, for sure, but that mistake was all Carragher's own work. There's been clear evidence that the Liverpool vice-captain has been going downhill for a couple of years now. I'm very surprised he got the nod for this big game, except that I'm also not.
42 min: Liverpool win a corner down the right. Some short passing from it. All very baroque.
43 min: Jelavic, not for the first time in this game, holds the ball up in the pocket just in front of the Liverpool box, and the defenders in red can't get anywhere near it. Skrtel clatters him from behind. Another free kick in a dangerous position, just to the left of the D, 20-odd yards out.
44 min: The very impressive Jelavic curls an effort just wide left. Jones appeared to have that covered. At least, that's how he's acting; that ball fizzed by pretty damn close to the post.
45 min: Suarez and Heitinga keep clattering into each other. It's six of one, half a dozen of the other. This time, though, Suarez tries to scuttle past Heitinga like a mouse. He can't get past his man, so resorts to a rugby tackle. "That was a sad and undignified way to end the great career of Jamie Carragher," writes a slightly presumptuous Andy Bo. "Focus may be on the comedy clearance, but that was merely the end product of two errors - starting with taking out 10 yards of depth because his legs couldn't stand the pace, cancelling the offside and thus letting Jelavic in. Then he lost his man and wandered into Skrtel's zone. It's sad, but his legs have gone over the hill. And Dalglish should have known that when he wrote the team sheet."
HALF TIME: Liverpool 0-1 Everton. That's it for the half. Everton deserve that lead; they've looked more accomplished in attack, and more solid at the back. As the teams depart Howard Webb stands between Suarez and Heitinga, who continue to bicker like bairns. Liverpool have an awful lot to think about at half time. Everton will be very pleased indeed.
HALF-TIME PARTY POLITICAL BROADCAST FROM THE USA (THAT MASS OF LAND JUST OFF THE COAST OF LIVERPOOL):
US politics can't always be as entertaining as this jingle. But Rich Fulcher is planning to take a tilt in Rich Fulcher's Guide to the US Elections. You've seen him touch his nipples in The Mighty Boosh. You've watched him rap with a baby in Snuff Box. You've even observed him eat soup with his hands in Tiny Acts of Rebellion. Now witness him make sweet, massively violent love to the topic of politics. "Can I be honest with you?" he writes. "I never have done a show like this before and I'd love it if you could see me, but not today, at the theatre. There are chairs there for most of the show. You will love the drinks and smells that are piped in from down the street. No Danes on Thursdays."
And we're off again! No changes. Liverpool get the second half underway. Will we see a repeat of the 1986 final, when Liverpool bounce back in the second half? Or the 1906 semi, when Liverpool lie down after making a show of themselves at the back? "A special version of High Hopes for the Kennedy campaign," writes Roy Allen. "Those were the days." I wonder if the Liverpool fans are similarly confident? If that opening period is anything to go by, I suspect not.
47 mins: WHAT A MISS!!! Liverpool come at Everton a couple of times down the right. Downing drops a shoulder and skates past Baines. He loops a brilliant cross to the far post. Carroll, four yards from goal, simply has to head the ball into the net. Instead, he sends the header miles wide left. That was appalling, dismal, and not far short of disgraceful. He at least has the decency to bury his face into his shirt in shame.
50 min: Everton haven't come out for the second half yet. Spearing is this close to setting Suarez free down the inside-left channel, but the pass is a tad mistimed. "Kenny Dalglish is the Richard Nixon of the Premier League or is that too harsh?" begins Steven Hughes. "Nixon also came back to the top job on a huge wave of support, winning 49 out of 50 states when re-elected in 1972; Nixon had successes that he could point to, with his visits to China and the USSR while Dalglish has his cup; Nixon disastrously authorised payments to his secret police force of 'plumbers', while Dalglish green lighted money for Carroll, Henderson and Downing; Nixon also had people close to him (Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman) leaving their posts "by mutual consent" in order to try to save the top man; and Richard Nixon also used to drone on about conspiracies and he hated the press too." Does this make Roy Hodgson Barry Goldwater?
51 min: Suarez rips down the left, but with only Carroll and Downing in the centre as options, decides to hold the ball up before attempting to do it all himself. Eventually Osman bundles him off it. "Is Magaye Gueye the the least-heralded Premier League player of recent times?" asks
Monday's edition of G2 Harry Tuttle. "I can't think of one transfer rumour, a single 'he can play a bit' segment on MOTD, nor even a significant incident - handbags, foul, wacky celebration - heavily replayed over a weekend. I admire the anonymity. He's like an underground techno producer. I reckon you could - should - start a 'Magaye Gueye is a genius' bandwagon. As long as Everton continue to play well, and he keeps getting in the team, the argument will carry some water - at least for non-Everton season-ticket holders. I'm no pro, but it seems that what's required is picking out one or two things he seems to do quite well, and then hype them to high heaven, in a manner, moreover, that suggests a certain esoteric edge to his tidy brilliance. I am not Magaye Gueye's agent."
53 min: A couple of set pieces for Everton. First, a corner down the right, which is easily cleared, the ball not even beating the first man. Then a free kick from the left, clipped in diagonally by Jelavic. Jones should come and claim, but runs under the ball, forcing Agger to bundle it out on the right. From the corner, the keeper reclaims some personal credit by punching clear. "I thought Carragher was a busted flush at the 2010 World Cup," writes Martin Gamage. "Remember a close up of him in one game after about ten minutes and he looked absolutely knackered. He's gone on two seasons too long."
55 min: Jelavic runs straight at Skrtel, who is on the back foot and retreats towards his own area. Jelavic decides to take a whack from distance, and blooters a preposterous effort miles over the bar and to the right of the target. "Is there any truth to the rumour that Jelavic's brother runs a dairy farm?" asks Dominic Wright, who has been reading the preamble to this report very closely.
57 min: Liverpool's early burst in this half seems to have blown out. A lot of aimless hoofing by both sides, neither of them going anywhere fast. Jones and Howard are both chasing after a lot of misplaced passes, taking turns to hoick the ball upfield. "Is it just me or have Liverpool been behaving like a dying dog recently?" asks Em, writing to us from her seat in Wembley car park. "And not the Marley and Me kind- ya know, where they slope off in the dead of night, find a leafy spot under their favourite tree and quietly kick the bucket. No drama, no fuss, etc. No, no, Liverpool insist on playing that great oaf-if someone doesn't put if someone doesn't put Carroll, Carragher and Agger (for that vomit inducing haircut) down soon I'm going to have to be physically restrained." Er... why are you in the car park? Have you been turfed out?
59 min: Skrtel and Jelavic are both booked for rolling around the floor like Alan Bates and Oliver Reed in Women In Love. It's a tender moment.
60 min: More hesitation at the back from Liverpool. Spearing should put his foot through the ball, but decides to turn himself into a Clodoaldo tribute act. Cahill nicks the ball off him, and prepares to shoot from a central position on the edge of the area, but Webb blows up for not much. Liverpool get away with their faffing around this time.
62 min: MORE GIFT-WRAPPED NONSENSE!!! Liverpool 1-1 Everton. Distin is chasing back down the Liverpool right. He should just clear, but decides to roll the ball back to his keeper. However, he gets nothing on it, and Suarez is on his shoulder. He scoots clear, towards the area. Howard comes out. Suarez has missed countless chances this season, but not now: he clips a simply magnificent finish with the outside of his right boot into the bottom-left corner. Just like the Everton goal: utterly hopeless defending, a world-class finish.
64 min: Liverpool are up for this now. Suarez skedaddles down the left, but can't find a man in the centre. The ball ends up with Downing on the right, but his shot is blocked. Gerrard has a dig; blocked. Everton are rocking a wee bit here. They need to settle themselves, and remember the shapes they were throwing before half time.
66 min: Johnson picks the ball up on the right wing, cuts inside, drops a shoulder once, then twice, then hits a trundler along the ground into the arms of Howard. A poor shot, but Everton are sitting back and inviting trouble here.
67 min: There's a real sense that a mistake will decide this game. Both sides look very nervous whenever the ball comes towards their box. Everton mount a rare attack. The excellent Jelavic is causing all manner of bother. Skrtel heads clear, but only just; the striker was looking to cushion a header down to Cahill, who would have been in acres on the edge of the area. Jones, meanwhile, had come out to claim, but was nowhere near.
68 min: Gueye is replaced by Coleman. "That snippet (55 min) is begging to be fleshed out," begins Dominic Wright. "My mail was pretty nondescript but for the intimation at least someone had read the very well researched preamble. Aha! Another complimentary reference to your work! Another mention on the MBM?" You've seen straight through me. I'm very needy.
74 min: Henderson is booked for arguing about a corner that never was. And now he's been hauled off for Maxi. That's two visits to Wembley, and twice he's been subbed for losing the place a wee bit. Such a nice lad, too!
70 min: Jones comes out and flaps at another long ball, this time a Neville free kick from deep on the right. Liverpool still clear. Suarez is sniffing around the feet of Distin again. This time there's no comic drama.
77 min: Osman curls a cross into the area from the left. Jones - yet again - comes and flaps. Liverpool hack clear, but the keeper isn't looking particularly stable at all.
78 min: We're having some technical problems here. Sorry. Carroll has been having some technical problems too, but here he is lashing a very decent low shot just wide right of goal.
80 min: Another long-distance effort by Carroll. This one is pretty bad, I'll not embarrass him. Maxi was standing in a bit of space screaming. "You know, I'd got quite comfortable with rationalising us being a goal behind by taking comfort from the fact that at least by not progressing to the final the vast cracks that have appeared this season would not be papered over," rationalizes Phil Sawyer. "Then Suarez goes and bloody scores. And then I find that I do really still want the Reds to win this and I'm just fooling myself. And now Hope's making eyes at me, which never bodes well. Now I don't know what to think."
82 min: Cahill, then Fellaini, heads on down the inside-left channel. Jelavic picks up the ball, enters the area, and welts a superb effort only just wide left of goal and into the side netting. I'm not sure Jones had too much of the goal covered there.
83 min: Carroll tries to release Downing into the area with a dinky header down the inside-left channel. The ball breaks back to him. His low shot is blocked by Suarez, of all people.
84 min: Downing is replaced by Bellamy. He doesn't seem too happy to be hooked.
85 min: Bellamy causes Suarezian bother down the right, troubling Osman. He wins a corner.
86 min: Coleman has been booked already - which I might have not mentioned, but I am having a mild tantrum due to the technical problems which mean you're not actually reading this live. He upends Agger down the left, near the corner flag. For some reason, he's not booked or sent off. But there's punishment to come...
87 min: GOAL!!! Liverpool 2-1 Everton. From the free kick, sent skimming across the edge of the six-yard area, Carroll plants a header into the right-hand side of the net! What a response to that miss at the start of this half! He peels off in extreme delight.
88 min: Everton respond by replacing Baines with Anichebe.
89 min: Suarez picks the ball up on the byline to the right of the goal. He slides the ball across the face of goal, having drawn Howard to the near post. Maxi is bombing in. He must score - but doesn't, sidefooting onto the left-hand post!
90 min: A long ball. Jones comes out and claims! I've seen it all now.
90 min +1: There will be four added minutes. This is the first. Suarez has a swipe from the edge of the area on the left, but Howard is behind it.
90 min +2: Everton are two on two, but Fellaini has handled to start the move.
90 min +3: A corner for Liverpool down the right. Time is wasted.
90 min +4: Cahill displays some world-class idiocy. Liverpool hassle and harry Distin down the Everton left, and win a throw. Cahill spends the best part of 20 seconds holding onto the ball and rowing with the linesman about the decision. Dear lord.
LIVERPOOL ARE IN THE FA CUP FINAL, AND IT'S ALL THANKS TO ANDY CARROLL!!! Liverpool 2-1 Everton. Howard Webb blows his whistle, and Liverpool throw their hands in the air. Everton - who didn't bother with the second half, and were as poor over the 46th to 90th minutes as Liverpool were impressive - collapse to the floor. You have to give Andy Carroll credit for grabbing the winning goal; his miss at the start of the second half was another of his Oh Dear moments - but he didn't hide, battled well, and grabbed a deserved winner for Liverpool. "It's 1986 all over again," opines Paul Griffin. "1-0 down, bossed out the game, then a monumental performance from the centre forward, who knocks over a camera for the winner. The first time anyone has ever compared Carroll with Ian Rush!"
As You'll Never Walk Alone blasts from the Wembley speakers, a sad scene down the blue end of the stadium: Sylvain Distin goes over to his fans to apologise for his mistake. The poor chap is heartbroken. "This is the best feeling ever," smiles Andy Carroll, who looks beside himself with joy. After the pelters - and all the straight-down-the-line abuse - he's taken this season, it'd take a heart of stone not to feel happy for him in this moment. "If we'd have lost that game 1-0, I don't know if I'd ever recovered," adds Gloy's Jamie Carragher. "Andy Carroll will be remembered for ever, that goal's worth £35m on its own. And Luis Suarez? I wouldn't swap him for any player in the league." The last word to Dominic Wright: "In summary, a repeat of the '71 semi and and Carroll's brother can rest easy, because we all know horses don't milk cows."