AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
LONDON: Andy Carroll scored a dramatic late winner as Liverpool came from one goal down to defeat Merseyside rivals Everton 2-1 to reach the FA Cup final here at the Wembley Stadium today.
Carroll — the club’s much-maligned £35 million record signing — glanced in a Craig Bellamy free-kick in the 87th minute to keep Liverpool on course for a domestic cup double. It was the second time in five days that Carroll had come to Liverpool’s rescue after scoring an injury-time winner in the Premier League victory over Blackburn in midweek.
More importantly the goal ensured Liverpool have the opportunity to finish a disappointing season on a high in next month’s final where they will face the winner of Sunday’s last-four clash between Tottenham and Chelsea. Carroll’s decisive strike came after Liverpool had fought back to level through Luis Suarez on 62 minutes following Nikica Jelavic’s opener for Everton.
On 24 minutes Liverpool were made to pay for their lacklustre opening as Jelavic pounced for his sixth goal since signing from Rangers in January. Daniel Agger dithered over a clearance inside the area before Jamie Carragher attempted to scramble the ball to safety. Carragher’s intervention cannoned back off Tim Cahill and into the path of Jelavic who finished coolly to send the blue half of Wembley into raptures.
The anticipated response from Liverpool never came however and they struggled to test Everton through the remainder of the half, with an off-target long-range Steven Gerrard effort on 37 minutes their only attempt on goal. Liverpool drew level on 62 mintues. Sylvain Distin underhit his backpass to Tim Howard and Suarez raced through on goal before poking his finish under the American keeper.
The relief coursed through Liverpool’s massed ranks of fans and they looked by far the likeliest side to score for the remainder of the game. Substitute Bellamy, who had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes, chipped in a perfectly flighted effort and Carroll outjumped Jelavic and Marouane Fellaini to glance home.