Liverpool Ousts Manchester City to Reach English Soccer Carling Cup Final

Record seven-time winner Liverpool tied Manchester City 2-2 last night to advance to the final of the Carling Cup with a 3-2 victory over the two-game series.

The Reds will play Cardiff in the Feb. 26 championship match at Wembley Stadium, where Liverpool hasn’t played since 1996. Cardiff beat Crystal Palace 3-1 two days ago in a penalty shootout to reach the final of English soccer’s second-tier cup competition for the first time.

Steven Gerrard scored with a 41st-minute penalty kick after Micah Richards was ruled to have handled the ball and Craig Bellamy earned the host the tie on the night with a 74th-minute goal.

“Craig Bellamy was the difference,” Gerrard told the British Broadcasting Corp. “His pace is always a threat and when a chance falls to him we know he can finish it.”

Gerrard’s penalty in Manchester gave Liverpool a 1-0 lead going into the return match.

Nigel de Jong gave City the lead in the 31th minute and Edin Dzeko put the visitors ahead again in the 67th minute at Anfield.

Last year, Birmingham beat Arsenal 2-1 in the final to secure its first major trophy in 48 years. At the time, Arsenal was second in the Premier League, while Birmingham was 16th. Cardiff of the second-tier Championship is the first team from outside the top division to reach the final since Birmingham lost on a penalty shootout to Liverpool in 2001.

“Arsenal underestimated Birmingham last year so we need to show Cardiff respect, show up like we did tonight and I’m sure we can pick up that trophy,” Gerrard said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Elser in London at celser@bloomberg.net

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