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Liverpool’s Carling Cup final victory may usher in a new era of success after the Reds overcame Cardiff in a penalty shootout to break their six-year trophy drought, manager Kenny Dalglish said.
Liverpool won the shootout 3-2 yesterday, capturing English soccer’s second-tier cup competition for a record-extending eighth time when Cardiff’s Anthony Gerrard missed his spot kick. His cousin, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, was among four others who failed to convert.
“Although we’ve won something, that’s not us finished,” Dalglish said at a news conference at London’s Wembley stadium. “We don’t want to stop here. We want to keep going.”
Liverpool’s first trophy since the 2006 F.A. Cup came almost 14 months after Dalglish took over for his second spell as manager. Dalglish, 60, led Liverpool to a then-record 18th English league championship in 1990, a tally that has since been bettered by archrival Manchester United.
Dalglish was appointed by Fenway Sports Group, the club’s owners, on a temporary basis in January 2011 after Roy Hodgson left the club by mutual consent after six months in charge. He signed a three-year contract as permanent manager in May.
“The whole club had a lot of pressure but Kenny has been extraordinary from day one,” John Henry, Liverpool’s principal owner, told the club’s website. “This is the first step for this club in trying to get to the point where we’re talking about things on the field rather than off the field.”
While Henry described yesterday’s penalty shootout as “torturous,” his business partner and Liverpool Chairman Tom Werner said the tension was too much for him.
“I really couldn’t watch the penalties,” Werner told liverpoolfc.tv. “I heard but I couldn’t watch. I’m just proud we won because it’s a first step and we’re looking forward to more silver.”
Liverpool is seventh in England’s Premier League, seven points behind fourth-place Arsenal in the final Champions League qualifying spot. The Reds host Stoke in the quarterfinals of the F.A. Cup on March 18.
Yesterday’s shootout followed a 2-2 tie after extra time.
Joe Mason scored for Cardiff, which plays in the second- tier Championship, after 19 minutes, with Martin Skrtel replying for Liverpool in the 60th minute. Substitute Dirk Kuyt appeared to have won it for Liverpool with a 108th-minute strike before Ben Turner scored 10 minutes later.
Steven Gerrard took the first penalty, which was saved by goalkeeper Tom Heaton. Charlie Adam fired over the crossbar for the Reds, while Kenny Miller, Rudy Gestede and then Anthony Gerrard missed for Cardiff.
The Bluebirds were the first team from outside the top division to reach the Carling Cup final since Birmingham City in 2001. Liverpool also won that match in a penalty shootout.
Cardiff went ahead yesterday after Liverpool fullback Glen Johnson hit the crossbar with a second-minute shot. The opening goal came after Miller took possession to the left of Liverpool’s penalty area before sliding a pass through to Mason, who slipped the ball into the net.
Center-back Skrtel made it 1-1 on the hour when he fired past after Luis Suarez hit a post with his header.
Johnson fired narrowly wide for Liverpool in extra time before Kuyt put Liverpool ahead with 12 minutes remaining when he slid in to poke the ball past Heaton. The Dutch striker then headed off the line to maintain Liverpool’s advantage before Turner forced the ball in from the resulting corner to take the game to penalties.
Dalglish, a Liverpool fans’ favorite from his days as a player with the club, said the victory was the culmination of “a lot of hard work from an awful lot of people.”
“Everybody has worked as hard as they possible could to move the club forward,” he said. “We had seven players come in this season and for them to walk away with a trophy in their first season means they can be very proud of their achievements. We’ll just continue to work hard and see where it takes us.”
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