- match commentary
- English FA Cup
- 14 April 2012, 11:30am
- Attendance: 87,231
Andy Carroll went from zero to hero again as Liverpool produced a second-half comeback to beat Everton 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
The Reds' much-maligned record signing went some way to justifying his huge price with the goal which put his side into their first FA Cup final since 2006 and ended the Toffees' dreams in Saturday's all-Merseyside encounter. The £35million striker had endured a testing afternoon, heading one straightforward chance wide, but came up with the winner four minutes from time at Wembley. Everton had earlier gone ahead following a first-half defensive blunder which gave Nikica Jelavic a simple chance. Luis Suarez levelled matters in the second half following another defensive howler.
It could be argued the failure of Carroll to score consistently partly contributed to the removal of director of football Damien Comolli by American owners Fenway Sports Group in a ruthless move on Thursday. Manager Kenny Dalglish has steadfastly defended his big striker despite all the criticism. Both the Reds boss and the 23-year-old forward will be hoping such a significant goal in Liverpool's season - hopes of Champions League qualification having been ended by a woeful run of results - will be a turning point for both of them. Having already won the Carling Cup in February Liverpool remain on course for a cup double, which has only been achieved three times previously - and once by themselves.
Past experience favoured Liverpool against Everton at Wembley in this competition, having had two FA Cup final wins against their near-neighbours in 1986 and 1989. Of the four FA Cup semi-finals the teams had contested, Everton had been victorious in only the first in 1906 and they went on to win the competition. But the history did not weigh heavy on the Toffees, who had the better of a relatively incident-free first half with neither goalkeeper having a proper save to make. That statistic would have been different had Jay Spearing not snatched at a third-minute chance after Carroll had worked space to cut the ball back to the edge of the area. With no goals in 48 previous matches of his Liverpool career Spearing was the last man the Reds would have wanted to see in a shooting position and he lived up to expectations by firing over.
Everton had two off-target free-kicks from Leighton Baines and Jelavic, who also had an overhead kick saved by Brad Jones, while Martin Skrtel shot tamely at Tim Howard after Steven Gerrard had picked out Carroll.
It may have been no real surprise the opening goal came from a mistake but the source of the error was. Carragher, a veteran of 696 appearances, hesitated along with stand-in left-back Agger when the ball dropped in the penalty area and when the vice-captain eventually decided to deal with it he succeeded only in driving it at Tim Cahill. The rebound fell favourably to Jelavic who coolly slotted a shot between the legs of a diving Jones to spark wild celebrations from Moyes on the touchline.
Carroll looked like he was to have one of those afternoons which have been all-too-regular since his January 2011 move from Newcastle with a glaring miss just two minutes into the second half. Stewart Downing's inviting cross to the far post was headed wide from close range, prompting the striker to rightly hide his face under his shirt and his manager put his head in his hands.
Fortunately for Carroll strike partner Suarez is sharper in front of goal, especially when gifted opportunities like the one in the 62nd minute. The otherwise-excellent Sylvain Distin badly mis-hit a backpass from wide on Everton's left and the Uruguay international raced into the area to slide a low shot with the outside of his right foot past Howard.
Carroll was at it again in the 78th minute, dragging wide left-footed from a good position but Jelavic, who at £5.5million already looks a bargain, was much closer in drilling a shot into the side-netting. Suarez got in the way of another Carroll effort which bounced wide before Everton substitute Seamus Coleman, booked soon after coming on, was lucky to escape a second caution when he clattered into Gerrard but Liverpool took full advantage.
Craig Bellamy, on for Downing, whipped in the 86th-minute free-kick and Carroll flicked in a header. Liverpool could even afford for another substitute Maxi Rodriguez to hit the post from close range as they booked a third appearance at Wembley in three months - they will meet Chelsea or Tottenham on May 5 - and kept their season alive. For Everton, however, their priority now will be finishing ahead of their local rivals in the Premier League, something they have done only once since its inception.
FULL-TIME: REDS IN THE FINAL! Skrtel boots away a hopeful Anichebe cross and that's it! Liverpool will be back at Wembley in three weeks time for the FA Cup final! Everton took the lead in the first half but they ultimately couldn't stop Liverpool's second-half revival which was topped off by Andy Carroll. Thanks for joining Orange's live coverage. Stay tuned for the full-match report.
90 mins: Four minutes of time added on for Everton to find a late equaliser. They can't get out of their own box never mind their own half at the moment.
Matt, Darlington -"Who would have thought it, Carroll may have just gotten Newcastle European football for next season!"
89 mins: Maxi smacks the post! Suarez initially shows great determination to keep the ball in over on the right byline. He bides his time before slotting it across the face of goal only for the Argentine to hammer the woodwork!
88 mins: All or nothing now for Everton. Baines sprints off to the switched with Anichebe.
87 MINS: LIVERPOOL ARE AHEAD! Liverpool's number nine has scored another late goal! From the resulting free-kick, Bellamy picks out Carroll who moves in between markers the flick the ball into the bottom right corner. Incredible scenes!
85 mins:Amazing generousity from Howard Webb. Coleman who has already been yellow card trips Gerrard up near the left corner flag. Lucky boy.
83 mins: Downing's number is up and will be replaced by Bellamy. Could he be the difference if we go to extra time?
78 mins: Coleman slips when receiving a pass from Heitinga and feels the need to try and handball it away. Play continues with Carroll who pokes the ball inches wide of the right post.
76 mins: Osman again exploits the spaces around the Liverpool area and lets rip with a powerful drive which is saved awkwardly by Jones. Johnson wasn't trying to score an own goal earlier I promise. I got lost in the moment!
74 mins: Henderson was talking his way into a red card before Dalglish does the right thing by bringing hime off. Maxi replaces the struggling midfielder.
72 mins: Henderson is the next player in the book for dissent. Howard Webb is having no backchat today! Everton have calmed the game down now since Suarez's leveller.
70 mins: Baines and the increasingly dangerous Downing lock horns again down the Liverpool right but the Everton full-back wins this particular battle on this occasion.
67 mins: Everton disrupt Liverpool's flow with their first change of the afternoon. The quiet Gueye is replaced by Coleman.
64 mins: Liverpool's spirits have been well and truly lifted after the equaliser. They bombing forward in numbers now as Johnson sees his left-footed effort saved byHoward.
61 MINS: SUAREZ EQUALISES! Now Everton mess up at the back! Distin panics over on the left touchline and his weak backpass is pounced upon by Suarez. He drives into the Everton box and pokes the ball beyond Howard. Distin is left with his head in his hands. What a gift!
58 mins: Jelavic and Skrtel have been squabbling at each other all game as the Liverpool defender goes in with another hard challenge. Everton win the free-kick but the former Rangers man is booked for dissent.
56 mins: Space opens up for Osman to have a dig but his drilled, low shot is dealt with well by Jones. The game is getting a little flat again. Time for some subs maybe?
53 mins: Everton give Jones a commanding test with a couple of drifted crosses. He doesn't feel confident enough to catch them but at least he gets them out of harm's way.
Cody, B'mouth - "get henderson off waste of space why does he play when u have maxi on the bench. Kuyt an maxi on second half or byebye final"
50 mins: Liverpool surge forward from their own six-yard box with Suarez down the left but he stutters into the Everton box before the Toffees get back in numbers.
Gaz, Warrington - "Mark your right about downing / maxi. Also kuyt should have started instead of henderson."
47 mins: Carroll misses a sitter! Downing scampers to the right byline and actually delivers a lovely cross to the most expensive English player in history but he somehow misses from three yards out at the back post. He can't believe it but sadly I can.
45 mins: We're back underway at Wembley. Liverpool kick-off and you would imagine they have been given a good kick up the backside in attempt to turn this game around.
HALF-TIME: Howard Webb calls time on a cagey but gripping first half at Wembley. Liverpool appear to be slipping back to their old ways by looking promising before falling apart in the final third. Everton have stood firm and find themselves ahead after Jelavic profited from some awful defending by Skrtel and Carragher. Stay tuned for the second half.
45 mins: Even more hesistancy in the Liverpool defence forces Gerrard to burst to left-back to clear the ball away. One minute of stoppage time added on.
John, North Shields -"I bet Jose wishes he had stayed at Newcastle. He and Andy are looking up at us now !!"
43 mins: Skrtel squashes Jelavic to the deck just 20 yards out from goal. The goalscorer brushes himself down before whipping the set-piece wide of the left post. Jones seemed to have that one covered.
Ciaran, Drumragh -"Liverpool need to tighten up at the back. In Brad we trust"
40 mins: Suarez has had a frustrating afternoon too and his mood won't lift after being on the receiving end for a Distin clattering. Mr Webb allows pla to continue before booking the Everton centre-half.
37 mins: Dalglish tries to shake things up a bit by getting Henderson and Downing to switch flanks. Everton have looked very comfortable with the Liverpool threat.
Gerrard fan, Kent -"To all the Happy Everton fans, remember ders only one true liverpool player in Gerrard, he will change the game!!!"
34 mins: Liverpool are trying their best to carve out chances but keep giving the ball to Downing who is having a shocker so far. I don't know about you Liverpool fans but I would start Maxi over him every time.
Simon, Norwich - "you everton fans will not know whats hit you when gerrard gets into his stride!!!"
31 mins: With not much happening on the pitch we get another look at Jelavic's opener. His left foot is in an offside position but the linesman would have done extremely well to spot that.
Greg, St Helens - "moyes 2 mark 10years in charge with the fa cup goin home 2 goodison"
28 mins: Everton fans are enjoying this! Johnson's overhit cross looking for Suarez is met with ironic cheers as it bounces behind for a goal-kick.
26 mins: Liverpool are keen to make amends quickly from that awful defensive mix-up. Downing lifts the ball into the Carroll to head but Baines does brilliantly in standing his ground. Everton then manage to clear well away.
23 MINS: JELAVIC SCORES! Oh dear. Absolutely comical defending from Liverpool! Skrtel and Carragher leave a loose ball to each other on the edge of their own box before Carragher hurriedly smacks the ball into the closing down Cahill. It falls perfectly into the path of JELAVIC who sidefoots it home from close range. A classy finish!
Nathan, Dorset - "Can see this being tight, but Everton to win with a late late goal, King Kenny will topple"
20 mins: Neville does well to keep a move alive for Everton down the right side and advances into the box with a cheeky stepover (!). Jelavic meets the awkward cross with a fancy overhead kick but he only manages to shin it to Jones
Simon, Bristol -"Want Everton to win but can't see anything but an easy liverpool win. "
17 mins: Everton exert a little pressure on the Liverpool but they still fail to test out third-choice keeper Jones. The Toffees are definitely beginning to emerge from their initial sticky patch.
Dean, Darlington - "easy win for liverpool come on the reds"
14 mins: Liverpool win a free-kick on the right-edge of the penalty are which Agger rifles straight into the base of the wall. The ball finds its way to Carroll who heads down for Skrtel to smash straight at Howard.
11 mins: Liverpool mount an attack down the shaded left-hand side with Downing but disappoints (not like him) with a sliced shot which is blocked off by an Everton defender.
8 mins: The main battle at the moment is off the pitch as both Liverpool and Everton fans try to outsing each other. Still very tetchy in the opening exchanges at Wembley.
6 mins: Agger blocks off Jelavic without taking any of the ball and Howard Webb gives Everton a free-kick within Baines' striking range. It's lifted harmlessly onto the roof of the net though.
3 mins: This is a nervy old start from the boys in blue. Carroll is eager to impress again after his last minute winner against Blackburn and finds Spearing arriving late in the box. The midfielder, who has never scored for Liverpool, blasts it way over the bar.
Neil, Liverpool - "Can't remember the last time Everton went into a derby game with everybody expecting them to win. Liverpool have turned the corner in the last couple of games though and should nick by the odd goal in three."
0 mins: Everton, playing from left to right, kick-off this eagerly-anticipated Merseyside clash. Both sides are in their usual home kits.
Christian, Southampton - "Everton to win 2-0. Carroll 2 finish the match in goal after Jones is sent off."
1228:Both teams walk out onto a glorious Wembley pitch and hold a magnificent tribute for the Hillsborough anniversary. Plenty of predictions coming in. Here's just a few...
Welcome to our build-up to Saturday lunchtime's FA Cup semi-final between Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Everton at Wembley.
The Toffees are currently one point clear of their neighbours in the Premier League but the Reds start the game as narrow favourites.
There are only five survivors for Liverpool from the dramatic 3-2 win at Blackburn. Jones, Carragher, Agger, Gerrard, Downing and Suarez all return for the Reds.
Everton manager David Moyes reverts to his strongest line-up after resting a number of players on Easter Monday. Distin Baines, Cahill, Gibson and Jelavic are all welcomed back having been left of the 4-0 win over Sunderland.
Join us for live commentary from 1230 and send Mark your comments and predictions via the box above.