Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Everton went head to head in this season’s first FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, with the red half of the city booking their place in the final thanks to a late Andy Carroll headed goal.
Leading up to the game, and even for the first 45 minutes, I was quietly confident that this could be Everton’s year to win a piece of silverware that we so badly desired.
A win against a Liverpool side weakened by suspensions to their top two goalkeepers would have booked our place in the final and also provided us with a European spot; which in turn would help with necessary exposure and finances.
However, that same goalkeeper frailty that should have made the daunting task a little easier quite simply remained untested. The few balls that were sent across the face of goal were not dealt with calmly, but this was something not capitalised on by our Everton side.
Everton’s goal came from a comedy of errors on the edge of the Liverpool area, following a miscommunication between Jamie Carragher and his centre-half partner Martin Skrtel. The duo left the simple clearance to one another, and after much bobbling around the ball was finally sliced clear only into the thigh of Tim Cahill. The Everton midfielder helped it on it’s way into the path of Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic, who cooly finished past Liverpool’s third choice keeper Brad Jones.
After taking the lead Everton had a strong 15 minutes, with the supporters in full swing. But then in an all too familiar fashion the fans saw the team sit back, resting on their one goal advantage.
As is ever the case this was not enough as Liverpool came out of the blocks in the second half raring to go and dominated us for the majority of it.
Our support was silenced after a calamitous back pass from Sylvain Distin was far too weak to reach it’s intended target, gifting a great opportunity for Luiz Suarez who duly obliged to level the score.
After this break cracks started to emerge in the Everton team, but didn’t fully crumble until a rash challenge from Seamus Coleman that quite frankly the young Irish lad was lucky to stay on the pitch after. The resulting free kick was whipped into the area by substitute Craig Bellamy, connected with Carroll’s ponytail and ended up nestled in the back of Tim Howard’s net.
Everton couldn’t respond to the late goal, which proved to be the winner for Liverpool. A long journey home for both sets of fans followed, although the red half of Merseyside is bound to have enjoyed their trip a lot more than myself and the Everton support.
It was a case of yet another game thrown away by Everton. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, yet we have no-one to blame but ourselves and must brush ourselves down and concentrate on our final league position.
Liverpool – Jones, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Skrtel, Gerrard, Henderson (Maxi 75), Downing (Bellamy 84), Spearing, Suarez, Carroll. Unused subs: Gulacsi, Enrique, Kelly, Shelvey, Kuyt.
Everton – Howard, Baines (Anichebe 88), Heitinga, Distin, Neville, Gibson, Cahill, Osman, Fellaini, Jelavic, Gueye (Coleman 68). Unused subs: Hahnemann, Hibbert, Jagielka, Stracqualursi, McFadden.