Liverpool Beats Manchester City in Carling Cup Semifinal Opener

Record seven-time winner Liverpool beat Manchester City 1-0 to open its Carling Cup semifinal and send the Premier League leader to a second straight home loss.

Steven Gerrard scored the only goal last night with a first-half penalty kick at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium. Liverpool, which tied Arsenal’s record of 14 semifinal appearances in English soccer’s second-tier club competition, hosts the return match Jan. 25.

“There is no way this game is over,” Gerrard told the British Broadcasting Corp. “The job is half done.”

It was the first time City, which was beaten 3-2 by Manchester United in the F.A. Cup four days ago, lost back-to-back home games since February 2008. The league leader was without captain Vincent Kompany, who was suspended for a red card against United, the injured David Silva and Yaya and Kolo Toure, who are at the African Cup of Nations.

“It is clear that without three or four players it’s difficult,” manager Roberto Mancini told the BBC.

The winner of the series advances to the Feb. 26 final at Wembley Stadium against Crystal Palace or Cardiff. Palace will take a 1-0 lead into the second game of that semifinal Jan. 24 in Wales.

Liverpool started quickly as City goalkeeper Joe Hart made saves against Andy Carroll and Gerrard before scrambling to knock away Stewart Downing’s deflected shot.

Liverpool’s Goal

The visiting team went ahead from Gerrard’s spot kick after Stefan Savic fouled Daniel Agger in the area. Carroll then sent a header wide midway through the first half.

Samir Nasri had City’s first shot on target in the 43rd minute, which was saved by Pepe Reina, and James Milner followed by firing over the goal just before halftime.

City went on the offensive after the break as Sergio Aguero shot over after intercepting Martin Kelly’s back pass. Reina then stopped Micah Richards’s header and caught Aguero’s shot.

The Blues continued to control play with Nasri and Milner missing with shots. Liverpool’s defense held to leave the Reds needing a home draw to reach the final for the first time since 2005.

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