Liverpool survive scare to win cup
There were hugely contrasting emotions for Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, who lifted the trophy in his first club appearance at Wembley, and his cousin, Cardiff substitute Anthony, whose missed spot-kick handed Liverpool victory.
Liverpool's famous "You'll Never Walk Alone" anthem rang out and fireworks blasted into the sky as their players celebrated the club's first silverware since the 2006 FA Cup, but Gerrard, who missed a penalty in the shootout, still found time to console his crestfallen cousin.
"It's always cruel when it goes to penalties," he told the BBC. "We got through by the skin of our teeth."
"It was always going to be one sad and one celebrating. I feel for Anthony and for Cardiff," he added.
After Ben Turner's goal near the end of extra-time took the 52nd League Cup final to penalties, Dirk Kuyt, Stewart Downing and Glen Johnson converted from the spot to complete Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish's collection of major English domestic trophies, 14 months after he returned as manager.
"It's a first trophy for six years so it's a very good day for the football club," Dalglish told reporters.
"It was a difficult game and Cardiff represented their club very well. Even when Dirk [Kuyt] scored in extra-time they were very tired but they dug in to get an equaliser."
Liverpool's massed armies of red clad fans arrived for their first visit to the new Wembley in party mood but it looked like going flat as Cardiff, bidding to become the first Welsh club to win the League Cup, threatened a huge shock.
The Premier League side had been served a warning of Cardiff's threat when Kenny Miller wasted an early chance but they did not learn and when Miller's slide rule pass dissected Liverpool's defence on 19 minutes Joe Mason drilled a low shot past Pepe Reina into the corner.
Charlie Adam, who scored for Blackpool in a Championship play-off final against Cardiff at Wembley in 2010, went close for Liverpool when his low blast from 25 metres whistled past the post but chances were few and far between for the front duo of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.
The sides traded chances at the start of the second half with Miller firing wide for Cardiff and Suarez's shot from an acute angle turned out by Tom Heaton.
Just before the hour mark Craig Bellamy replaced the ineffective Jordan Henderson and the Cardiff native who played for his hometown club on loan last season from Manchester City before joining Liverpool for a second time was warmly applauded on by both sets of fans.
Within a minute Liverpool were level. Downing's corner was met powerfully by Andy Carroll whose header was diverted on to the post by the head of Suarez and when the ball came back to Martin Skrtel he fired past Heaton.
The relief at the Liverpool end was palpable and Dalglish's side enjoy some clear superiority as extra-time loomed. Downing's powerful shot drew a sprawling save from Heaton while Suarez buzzed around menacingly.