Liverpool Live Blog: Craig Bellamy’s Second-Half Goal Sends Reds Past Manchester City, Into Carling Cup Final

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January 25, 2012

Liverpool Live Blog: Craig Bellamy's Second-Half Goal Sends Reds Past Manchester City, Into Carling Cup FinalFinal, 2-2: It’s all over. Liverpool is through to the Carling Cup final, thanks to a thrilling 2-2 draw with Manchester City. LFC needed a win or a draw to advance, having won the first leg of the semifinal 1-0.

Bellamy was again the hero, scoring the goal that buried City’s hopes and spirits. He makes his case as Liverpool’s, and maybe the Premier League’s, signing of the season. 

Dalglish demanded a response to LFC’s recent struggles, and he got it from his team. The Reds came from behind twice in a display of character and determination. Gerrard and Bellamy’s names appear on the score-sheet, but the team effort was what is taking LFC to Wembley. 

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.

94th minute, 2-2: There’s a celebratory atmosphere at Anfield (and the Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, MA). The Reds have done a professional job in closing out the semifinal after Bellamy’s goal. But it’s not over yet. 

91st minute, 2-2: Carroll is coming on for Kuyt. The Dutchman had his best game in weeks — months even. The dependable veteran wasn’t phased by the big game atmosphere. 

88th minute, 2-2: Kelly is coming on for Bellamy, as Dalglish looks to lock up the game and send LFC to Wembley.

86th minute, 2-2: There’s just a few minutes left in this one, and City looks like it has run out of miracles.

Dzeko had another shot from close range, but Agger was there to smother it. 

81st minute, 2-2: Johnson makes an early impact with a cross-field pass that springs Dzeko. 

The City forward ran onto it in the area, cut back and shot on goal. But Reina was there to make his first — and most important –save of the game.

78th minute, 2-2: Johnson replaces the goal scorer de Jong. 

74th minute, 2-2: Bellamy scores to put LFC back in command of this semifinal. 

Kuyt cut into the area and found Johnson on his right. Johnson played a first time pass to Bellamy, who turned and slotted it past Hart.

It was always going to take something special to beat Hart, and LFC scored one of its best team goals of the season. 

71st minute, 2-1 Manchester City: If the score remains as it is, the semifinal will go to extra time. The away-goals rule only comes into play after 120 minutes. With City leading in that department, this one won’t go to penalty kicks. 

67th minute, 2-1 Manchester City: Dzeko has given City the lead. Kolarov drove down the left and hit a hard cross into the area. It eluded Skrtel and Agger, and Dzeko ghosted popped up behind the Danish defender to tap it past Reina.  

64th minute, 1-1: Aguero’s substitution has seen City become a bit more dangerous in the second half. 

55th minute, 1-1: Kolarov is booked for a foul on Henderson. 

54th minute, 1-1: It’s end to end stuff. LFC counters a City attack with one of its own. 

Kuyt floated a cross to Downing that the LFC winger met. He aimed his shot to the near post, but Hart was up to the task. 

53rd minute, 1-1: Hart’s heroics continue. He parries Skrtel’s shot from close range over the bar.

48th minute, 1-1: Kuyt hits a drive from 18 yards out. Hart spills it in front of his goal, and Henderson nearly pounces on it. 

46th minute, 1-1: Aguero replaces Savic at halftime. Mancini has seen enough of the young defender’s mistakes. 

Halftime, 1-1: That’s the end of a gripping first half at Anfield. City got the early goal, but LFC was rewarded for its constant pressure late in the half. 

The penalty against Richards may have been a bit harsh, but any referee on any day can give it.

The Reds have been solid for much of the half. City has been more tentative, but punished its opponent for a mistake in a dangerous position.

The second half should be every bit as compelling as the first. 

40th minute, 1-1: And Gerrard buries the penalty low, hard to Hart’s right. 

The LFC captain hit it with the authority of someone who forbade his teammates of talking about Wembley in the lead-up to the game. 

39th minute, 1-0 Manchester City: Liverpool has been given a penalty. Agger’s shot hit Richard’s leg, then deflected onto his hand (in the area). 

Good things happen when the big Dane gets into the area. 

31st minute, 1-0 Manchester City: Nigel de Jong takes a pass from Silva and scores his second goal in over 160 games for City. 

Silva carried it on the left and played it square to the Dutch destroyer, who was pushing forward from his position deep in the midfield. He wasn’t tracked, and had a chance to unleash his curling (but powerful) shot past Reina. He slipped as he hit it, making it all the more dramatic. 

27th minute, 0-0: Mancini’s tactics are coming into better focus. Savic is in the middle of a back three, with Lescott on his left and Richards on his right. 

Zabaleta (right) and Kolarov (left) man the wide areas, with Barry and de Jong sitting deep in the midfield. 

Nasri attacks the left, Silva mans the right and Dzeko leads the front line in the middle. 

24th minute, 0-0: Bellamy scores, but he’s a yard or two offside. It came on the heels of some clever buildup play between Downing, Enrique and Henderson. 

21st minute, 0-0: Bellamy skips past Savic, darts into the City area and fires at Hart. The goalkeeper easily parries it away.

City cast the Welshman out of the kingdom in August. He’d surely love to make his former employers pay. 

18th minute, 0-0: It seems City is playing with three at the back. Lescott is flanked by Savic on the left and Richards on his right. 

15th minute, 0-0: The Reds are by far the more assertive group in the early goings. They are passing better and creating the most dangerous of the scoring chances. 

11th minute, 0-0: LFC knows how important the first goal will be in this semifinal second leg. 

Adam tested Hart from distance, but the England international saved it well. 

Ninth minute, 0-0: City makes its first real foray forward. Nasri cuts in from the left and fires a right-footed shot high from about 20 yards out. 

Fourth minute, 0-0: Confusion at the back for City almost gifts LFC the opener.

Enrique carried it forward on the left and crossed into the area. City couldn’t clear it, and the ball fell back to the Spanish fullback. But he’s not used to being in that position.

He hit his shot low to the near post, but Hart made a save with his trailing leg.

Third minute, 0-0: This one’s off to a slow start, as much of the play is contained in the middle third of the field. 

Pregame: Kickoff is approaching, and a look at the lineups tells us that both managers are placing an emphasis on defense. 

Liverpool has a one-goal advantage to protect and, understandably, may not be too adventurous going forward. Kuyt and Bellamy will lead the forward lines, but it’s unlikely either will spend the entire game as a traditional striker. 

Mancini’s been complaining about his sqaud being thin for weeks. He may be on to something, as the absences of Kompany and Mario Balotelli force him to reconfigure his team.

Kolarov may try and match Milner’s industry in the midfield. The attacking trio of Nasri, Silva and Dzeko will bear much of the responsibility going forward. But one gets the sense that City will sit deep, look to counter and try and take its chances on set pieces. 

2:00 p.m.: Here are the lineups:

Liverpool

Pepe Reina (25), goalkeeper
Jose Enrique (3), left back
Martin Skrtel (37), defender
Daniel Agger (5), defender 
Glen Johnson (2), right back 
Steve Gerrard (8), midfielder
Charlie Adam (26), midfielder
Stewart Downing (19), midfielder 
Jordan Henderson (14), midfielder
Craig Bellamy (39), forward
Dirk Kuyt (18), forward

Substitutes

Doni (32), goalkeeper
Jamie Carragher (23), defender
Sebastian Coates (16), defender
Martin Kelly (34), defender
Jonjo Shelvey (33), midfielder
Maxi (11), forward
Andy Carroll (9), striker

Manchester City

Joe Hart (25), goalkeeper
Micah Richards (2), right back
Joleon Lescott (6), center back
Stefan Savic (15), center back
Pablo Zabaleta (5), left back
Gareth Barry (18), midfielder
Nigel de Jong (34), midfielder
Aleksandar Kolarov (13), midfielder
David Silva (21), midfilder 
Samir Nasri (19), midfielder
Edin Dzeko (10), striker 

Substitutes

Costel Pantilimon (30), goalkeeper
Gael Clichy (22), defender
Karim Rekik (44), defender
James Milner (7), midfielder 
Owen Hargreaves (20), midfielder 
Adam Johnson (11), midfielder
Sergio Aguero (16), forward 

12 a.m. ET: 90 minutes is all that stands between Liverpool FC and its first trip to the new Wembley Stadium. The Reds host Premier League leader Manchester City in the second leg of the Carling Cup semifinal on Wednesday.

A 1-0 away win on Jan. 11 put the Reds in good position to progress to the final. Now they must finish the job they started two weeks ago. Wednesday’s game will require a special focus and attention to detail, as any mistake made by either side could settle the two-game series. There are few secrets between LFC and City, as this will be the fourth meeting between the two familiar foes this season.

Captain Steve Gerrard will marshall the group that has struggled in league play in recent weeks. Manager Kenny Dalglish has demanded an instant response to the weekend’s slip up. He has no known selection issues, so he will field the strongest possible team.

City comes into the game missing key defender Vincent Kompany and its midfield titan Yaya Toure. But manager Roberto Mancini will still have a formidable group at his disposal. It will likely include playmaker David Silva and deadly forward Sergio Aguero.

Join us right here at 2:45 p.m. for all the action.

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