Match Report from This Is Anfield
Trailing 1-0 at half-time, Liverpool produced a fantastic second half performance to turn the game around and sink the Toffees thanks to goals from Luis Suarez and Carroll.
A minutes silence was held before kick-off and flowers presented by both sides to remember those that lost their lives at Hillsborough in 1989,
Eyebrows were raised when the starting line-up was announced, with Daniel Agger preferred at left-back to Jose Enrique, to allow the experienced Jamie Carragher to partner Martin Skrtel in central defence.
Brad Jones took the gloves for the Reds with both Pepe Reina and Alexander Doni suspended, whilst both Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll started up front.
Everton took the lead half way into the first half when catastrophic defending and communication mix-up between Skrtel and Carragher saw the Reds not clear their lines when the ball fell on the edge of the box.
Carragher’s panicked clearance hit the oncoming Tim Cahill, the ball ricocheted to Nikica Jelavic who cooly slotted past Jones.
TV replays showed that when the ball fell off Cahill to Jelavic, the Everton striker was in an offside position.
Liverpool’s first half performance was lacking. The team looked disorganised and lost on the big Wembley pitch.
Agger looked uncomfortable in his left-back position, as did Jordan Henderson who was switched from right to left wing during the half.
Some bright work from Stewart Downing carved out a few attacking movements for the Reds but chances were lacking as Steven Gerrard and Jay Spearing did a fine job of sweeping up lose balls.
A constant fued between Suarez and Everton‘s Johnny Heitinga had to be cooled down at the break after a series of collisions.
Just seconds after the restart, a fantastic deep Downing cross found Andy Carroll towering above Philip Neville, but the number nine flashed his header well wide, missing out on a glorious opportunity, much to the disbelief of his teammates, Kenny Dalglish and the fans.
But the Reds’ second half started much brighter as they launched players forward looking for an equaliser.
Slyvain Distin then committed a defensive blunder of his own to let in Suarez for Liverpool’s equaliser on the hour mark.
His short pass back to Tim Howard in the Everton goal was run onto by Suarez, who took one touch and then finished with a sweet shot on the outside of his boot. A gift from the Blues to the Reds.
The goal sparked even more confidence and urgency into Liverpool and plunged Everton into shocked silence and loss of hope, and suddenly the roles from the first half were reversed with the Reds now on top.
Carroll’s game stepped up as he got in amongst the nit and gritty up front, carving out chances, but ultimately not getting the final product on target.
The introductions of Maxi Rodriguez and Craig Bellamy late on brought extra spark to Liverpool’s last push for a winner.
And it was Bellamy’s cross from a free kick on the left that set up Andy Carroll who’s towering header touched the ball past Howard in the Everton goal just four minutes from time.
Seconds later Maxi missed a wonderful opportunity to finish the game from close range, but timed his run fractionally out.
Whatever Dalglish told the players at half-time, it worked as a rejuvenated second half performance made all the difference as the Reds look forward to returning to Wembley for the third time this season in May.
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Team Line-ups & Substitutions
Liverpool: Jones, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Skrtel, Gerrard, Henderson (Maxi 74), Downing (Bellamy 84), Spearing, Suarez, Carroll.
Subs not used: Gulacsi, Enrique, Kelly, Shelvey, Kuyt.
Everton: Howard, Baines (Anichebe 88), Heitinga, Distin, Neville, Gibson, Cahill, Osman, Fellaini, Jelavic, Gueye (Coleman 68).
Subs not used: Hahnemann, Hibbert, Jagielka, Stracqualursi, McFadden.
Referee: Howard Webb