Kenny Dalglish Salutes Cardiff City As Commendable Opponents in Carling Cup Final

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Kenny Dalglish Salutes Cardiff City As Commendable Opponents in Carling Cup FinalA full division separates Liverpool FC from Cardiff City FC in England's Football League standings. But in the areas of determination, self-belief and courage the two teams were evenly matched in Sunday's Carling Cup Final.

LFC manager Kenny Dalglish hailed Cardiff City as worthy opponents for the momentous occasion.

"We're delighted to have won a trophy," Dalglish said. "It was a difficult game for us and I think Cardiff represented their football club extremely well. They tried everything. Even in extra-time after Dirk [Kuyt] scored, they were very tired but they dug down deep enough to get an equaliser."

Liverpool won the Carling Cup after prevailing by a score of 3-2 in a dramatic shoot-out. But 120 minutes of open play resulted in a 2-2 draw.

Despite being thouroughly outplayed in the early goings, Cardiff City opened the scoring in the 19th minute. Kenny Miller found Joe Mason with a well-weighted through-ball to beat LFC's offside trap, and Mason confidently finished it off. The goal showed that they did not come all the way to Wembley Stadium for a coronation.

Martin Skrtel tied the game in the 60th minute, and the Reds had Cardiff under siege for much of the next 10 minutes. But the Bluebirds emerged from their shell and nearly grabbed the winner on two occasions before the end of 90 minutes.

Ben Turner's header took a deflection off Jose Enrique in the 83rd minute, and Miller blasted his shot over the bar (from close range) in the 88th minute.

Extra time saw Dirk Kuyt score what looked like the winning goal in the 108th minute. But the story of this final had another dramatic twist in store, and Turner was the man of the moment.

Cardiff's players were exhausted, but they found the energy to mount a number of attacks on the LFC goal as extra time neared its end. They concluded with Turner getting on the end of a flick-on header, and slotting the equalizer past Kuyt and Pepe Reina.

The goal sent Turner and Cardiff City fans into a state of delirium. But it would be short lived. The Reds held their nerves in the shootout, and emerged as victors.

"We've played well, come through some really hard games, and today was a really hard game because they were tough opponents," Dalglish said. "[Cardiff City manager] Malky [Mackay] can be proud of the job he's done there, and the people of Cardiff can be proud of the efforts they've put in."

Review all the action from Sunday's game in our Liverpool Live Blog.

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