Liverpool Live Blog: Steve Gerrard Scores, LFC Wins Carling Cup Semifinal First Leg 1-0

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Liverpool Live Blog: Steve Gerrard Scores, LFC Wins Carling Cup Semifinal First Leg 1-0

Final, 1-0 Liverpool: It’s over and LFC takes a one-goal lead back to Anfield ahead of the Jan. 25 second leg. Gerrard’s goal stands as the difference between the two teams, and the anticipation will only build for two weeks until their next meeting.

The Reds were by far the better team in the first half and had a deserved lead to show for it. 

City pressed and threw everything forward in the second, but LFC defended bravely in the second.

That’s all for now and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com.

91st minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Aguero comes ever so close to levelling things. Nasri crosses from the right and the striker heads just high of the goal. 

86th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Nasri and Henderson are pushing and shoving. It’s not clear what happened, but Nasri is booked for his role.

Carragher and Nasri were contesting a ball along the touch-line and the LFC vice captain cleared it out. He stepped on Nasri’s foot while turning, leading to an Engalnd-France confrontation. 

82nd minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Defense is the order of the day for LFC. 

Johnson, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger and Enrique are manning the back line. It looks like Carragher and Agger have license to push into the midfield, but they know their chief responsibility. 

80th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Carragher comes into the fray now. He replaces Bellamy. That’s six defenders (by trade) on the field for LFC. 

Dalglish understands how important holding this lead is to the two-legged affair. 

79th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: City hasn’t had much to show for its possession advantage in the second half. 

But Nasri crossed into the box and Barry (of all people) nearly gets on the end of it. Reina cleared it away. 

77th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: City has the numbers up front to do some damage, but lacks the sharpness.

Kolarov’s shot is far off the mark, and Mancini has the look of a man who’s used all his options. And he has. 

70th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Nasri has tucked into a central role, assuming the creative responsibilities for City.

He finds a bit of space, but his shot is high and a little wide. LFC is defending bravely. 

66th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Dzeko enters for Johnson, as Mancini seeks a vital goal ahead of the return trip to Anfield. 

65th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: City’s taking the initiative now, as Aguero and Nasri link up to create a chance. 

Reina easily handles Aguero’s shot. 

60th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Enrique has come on for Downing. It looks like he’ll take up a position in the midfield, with responsibility for locking up Nasri. 

Johnson has also played out wide on the right for City, switching with Nasri, and Enrique will keep close watch on him as well. 

59th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Nasri’s corner is headed authoritatively by Richards, but Reina makes the fine reaction save.

The LFC goalkeeper has shaken off last week’s troubles at this same stadium. He’s done well so far today. 

56th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Kelly’s back to Reina is intercepted by Aguero, but the City forward could not direct his shot on target. 

LFC escaped a sticky situation there. 

55th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: City nearly broke through, but Skrtel was there to clear Aguero’s dribble out for a corner. 

Skrtel and Agger have kept a tight lid on Diego Maradona’s son-in-law. 

52nd minute, 1-0 Liverpool: City looks to apply the pressure in the early stages in the second half. But Liverpool has sat deep, maintained its shape and turned away everything the hosts throw its way. 

47th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: We’re under way in the second stanza of this one. If LFC can take a lead back to Anfield, it will consider this trip to City a smashing success. 

Halftime, 1-0 Liverpool: The only thing LFC could have wanted that it didn’t get was more goals. The Reds were by far the better team in the first half, as City struggled in nearly every department. 

45th minute plus three, 1-0 Liverpool: Johnson wins a free-kick in a dangerous spot. He’s been City’s most positive player in the first half, but his free-kick is off the mark. And that’s it for the first half. 

45th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Richards beats Johnson and crosses to Milner in the box, but the City midfielder hits his shot high and wide. It was City’s best chance of the half. 

41st minute, 1-0 Liverpool: City is looking all out of sorts at the moment. That rings especially true for its defense. de Jong and Savic have given the ball away in dangerous spots, and neither seems to mind.

It could be the snow and hail that’s throwing them off. But it’s probably something else.

40th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Nasri goes on a trademark slalom dribble and rips a shot from distance. But Reina is there to confidently save it away. 

39th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Nasri is coming on for Balotelli. He’s limping off, so it might be the balky ankle that is acting up.

City just got a lot less interesting. 

35th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Carroll heads Bellamy’s cross just wide of the far post. It would have been a fantastic goal had it gone in.

32nd minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Johnson (LFC) fouls Johnson on the far touch-line, but escapes caution. City seem to prefer to attack down Liverpool’s left side, with Johnson deployed on that unfamiliar side of the field.  

29th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: City just seems to have settled down over the last five minutes, and is sustaining possession. 

Adam interrupts it with a foul on Balotelli. The Italian took offense to the foul and had to be calmed down by Milner. 

25th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: We’ll see how Spearing’s injury affects LFC’s setup. He was so good as a shield for the back four. 

Adam and Henderson may sit a little deeper than they otherwise would, while Gerrard continues to prod and create in front of them. But that’s just an early guess. 

22nd minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Spearing’s day ends early, as Adam replaces him. It looks like he pulled his hamstring, but we’ll wait for a proper diagnosis. 

21st minute, 1-0 Liverpool: LFC clearly took the field with instructions to attack City and it’s paid of with the early goal. 

Aguero and Milner are the only two of City’s front six to have featured regularly in recent weeks. And it shows.

17th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: We must also credit Agger for his work to win the penalty. He controlled it on his chest, took another touch to create some space, and Savic seemed to panic. His challenge was rash and any referee would give it. 

15th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: It’s nearly impossible to overstate the drop in class that City is suffering from at the back without Kompany. It may have the best defensive record in the league, but minus Kompany and Toure, City is quite ordinary in the center of defense. 

13th minute, 1-0 Liverpool: Gerrard buries the penalty low, hard and past the outstretched goalkeeper. It’s the captain’s second goal from the spot in as many games. 

He was confident and composed in the run-up and made no mistake about it. 

11th minute, 0-0: Agger tries to control the next corner, and he goes down after Savic fouls him in the area. It’s a penalty. 

10th minute, 0-0: Gerrard shoots from 22 yards out in the center and draws an outstretched save from Hart.

His ensuing corner is hit on a full volley by Downing, but Hart saved that as well. 

Fifth minute, 0-0: Carroll has a good early chance, but Hart is quick off the line to deny the LFC striker.

It was a one-on-one opportunity for the big man. He ran onto a through-ball and kept Savic at bay. But his shot was not clinical enough to beat England’s number one. 

Fourth minute, 0-0: Liverpool is taking the methodical approach to its buildup play. As it did in last week’s meeting, it’s controlling the possession in the early goings. 

Pregame: Gerrard, Spearing and Bellamy keep their places in the team for this crunch game. Carroll, Henderson, Skrtel and Downing return to the starting 11. 

Kelly and Johnson will man the fullback roles for the Reds, but that means Enrique takes a place on the bench to start the game.

City will likely field a classic 4-4-2 in this one. Barry and de Jong will shield the center backs Lescott and Savic. That leaves the attacking burden to Johnson, Milner, Balotelli and Aguero. It’s a formidable unit, but far from City’s best. Silva will play no part, after suffering an ankle injury. 

2:30 p.m. ET: Here are the lineups: 

Liverpool

Pepe Reina (25), goalkeeper
Martin Kelly (34), right back 
Martin Skrtel (37), defender
Daniel Agger (5), defender 
Glen Johnson (2), left back 
Steve Gerrard (8), midfielder
Jay Spearing (20), midfielder
Stewart Downing (19), midfielder 
Jordan Henderson (14), midfielder
Craig Bellamy (39), forward
Andy Carroll (9), striker

Substitutes

Doni (32), goalkeeper
Jamie Carragher (23), defender
Sebastian Coates (16), defender
Jose Enrique (3), defender
Jonjo Shelvey (33), midfielder
Charlie Adam (26), midfielder
Dirk Kuyt (18), forward

Manchester City

Joe Hart (25), goalkeeper
Micah Richards (2), right back
Joleon Lescott (6), defender
Stefan Savic (15), defender 
Gael Clichy (22), left back
Gareth Barry (18), midfielder
James Milner (7), midfielder 
Nigel de Jong (34), midfielder
Adam Johnson (11), midfielder
Sergio Aguero (16), forward
Mario Balotelli (45), striker

Substitutes

Costel Pantilimon (30), goalkeeper
Nedum Onuoha (24), defender
Pablo Zabaleta (5), defender 
Aleksandar Kolarov (13), defender 
Owen Hargreaves (20), midfielder
Samir Nasri (19), midfielder
Edin Dzeko (10), striker 

12 a.m. ET: It’s been nearly 16 years since Liverpool last visited Wembley Stadium. The only thing standing between the Reds and a trip to English soccer’s most hallowed venue is big, bad Manchester City.

LFC begins its two-legged Carling Cup semifinal on Wednesday. It travels to City’s Etihad Stadium looking to secure a result ahead of the Jan. 25 second leg at Anfield.

The Reds have treated the Carling Cup with the same importance it would European competitions in years past. Kenny Dalglish will likely field his strongest team, as LFC has had five days of rest since Friday’s 5-1 win over Oldham Athletic.

The major question will be how much Steve Gerrard and Craig Bellamy will play. The captain went 90 minutes on Friday against Oldham, and the coaching staff remains committed to properly managing his recovery. Bellamy has been restricted to one start per week for most of the season because of his veteran knees. Time will tell if Dalglish unleashes the December Player of the Month against the Premier League leader.

City is has selection problems of its own. Vincent Kompany will play no part in the semifinal round, as he serves a four-game suspension for a red card in Sunday’s FA Cup game. Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli and David Silva are suffering from various ailments, and could miss out on Wednesday’s game. To top it off, the Toure brothers are with their national team (Ivory Coast) preparing for the African Cup of Nations.

Liverpool is confident that City is there for the taking, but Dalglish is taking nothing for granted.

Join us right her at 2:45 p.m. for our coverage of Liverpool-Manchester City. We’ll have all the action.

Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O’Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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