Manchester City suffered defeat in the Carling Cup semi-final as they were held to a 2-2 draw against Liverpool at Anfield in the second-leg, succumbing 3-2 on aggregate.
Micah was again named captain in the absence of Vincent Kompany, with Roberto Mancini willingly switching things around as his side went in search of the win they needed to progress to the final at Wembley.
A mistake early on by Aleksander Kolarov saw the ball wind up with Jose Enrique, only for Joe Hart’s quick reactions to stop his effort, whilst Craig Bellamy – against his former employers – was given Stefan Savic a torrid time in City’s defence.
Liverpool had never lost a semi-final game at home and it was easy to see why, with the Anfield faithful in full voice and the Reds brimming with confidence, and Bellamy went close with 20 minutes on the clock as he drove into the box only for Hart to get down well to save his low drive.
However, arguably against the run of play City seized the advantage. David Silva laid it off to Nigel de John who, despite losing his balance, curled home a fine 25-yard effort to make it 1-0, and 1-1 on aggregate.
Liverpool immediately countered, Charlie Adam forcing another fine save by Hart with a rasping shot, and they were level soon after as Micah was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball. Daniel Agger’s shot was blocked by the skipper but the ball inadvertently rebounded on to his hand, and Steven Gerrard stepped up to convert his second penalty of the tie to level things.
In truth the home side were deserving of their aggregate lead and were it not for Hart, the clash could have been over by half-time. Not long after the interval, Stewart Downing went close with a header which City’s stopper saved with his legs, not long after he’d denied Martin Skrtel with an equally impressive parry.
Mancini’s men were seemingly on the back foot, but once again they seized the initiative after fine work by Kolarov. The left-back whipped in a cross that evaded the Liverpool defence, and Edin Dzeko was on hand to tap home to make it 2-1 on the night, and most importantly 2-2 on aggregate.
However, Kenny Dalglish’s men weren’t going to be denied given their possession, and Bellamy it was that was to score the vital second for his side. Having played a one-two with Glen Johnson on the edge of City’s box, the Wales international curled a sublime effort passed Hart and into the back of the net to make it 2-2.
Despite City’s best efforts, they were to find no further ways through, and Liverpool advanced to the final to play Cardiff City, whilst Mancini’s side are left to focus their efforts on the Premier League title.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Henderson, Adam, Downing, Gerrard, Bellamy, Kuyt. Subs: Doni, Carroll, Maxi, Coates, Carragher, Shelvey, Kelly.
Man City: Hart, Richards, Savic, Lescott, Kolarov, De Jong, Barry, Zabaleta, Silva, Nasri, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Milner, Johnson, Aguero, Hargreaves, Clichy, Rekik.
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