Cardiff City 2 Liverpool 2 (2-3 on penalties)

Played on: Sunday 26th February 2012

Then the seemingly impossible happened. Whittingham curled in a corner that Gunnarson headed towards Turner. And then everything just stopped. At no point during this game did I allow myself to believe that we could beat Liverpool, until now. . . .

Never have I been so proud to be a Cardiff fan than after those epic 120 minutes of football. It’s a really weird feeling as I’m absolutely gutted that we lost the game, especially as it was only the lottery of penalties that sealed our fate, but yet I’m so proud of the players who gave their absolute all. It may well be a very bitter pill to swallow, but we gave them one hell of a game and one that I’m sure every City fan will never forget.

Within the first two minutes I thought it was going to be a long day when Glen Johnson’s shot struck the underside of the bar. And to be brutally honest I really didn’t think we stood much of a chance before kickoff, so I was as surprised as anyone when we actually took the lead!

Kenny Miller’s precision pass fed Joe Mason who was the Bluebird to give hope to City fans when he calmly slotted the ball under Pepe Reina’s legs. The goal came completely against the run of play, but it was early in the game and I still didn’t believe that we could triumph over a Liverpool team with the quality of Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Stuart Downing. But young Mason’s goal gave us a chance, a player who, when signed at the start of the season from lowly League Two Plymouth believed he was being signed for the future. Yet here he was, scoring a goal against Premier League Liverpool, in the cup final, at Wembley.

The home side (well, we have been there four times now!) had to put up with wave upon wave of Liverpool attack. But the centre back pairing of Mark Hudson and Ben Turner was truly fantastic, throwing themselves at every shot to keep the Bluebirds ahead.

My view of the Wembley pitch

Craig Bellamy came on to rapturous applause from both sets of fans. For a player who gets booed at virtually every game he plays, this was a reception that he will certainly savour. Bellamy’s arrival however seemed to spur Liverpool on and they equalised on the hour mark through the goal machine that is…Martin Skrtel. Suarez headed Downing’s corner against the post and Skrtel was first to the rebound, taking a touch before driving the ball between Tom Heaton’s legs to draw Liverpool level.

Lets face it, the equaliser had been coming but Kenny Miller could have so easily won it for Cardiff with just two minutes to go, a team that had no right to put themselves in a position to win such a game. The ball bounced up perfectly for the experienced Scot who fired his shot over the bar, despite having the goal at his mercy.

The game almost inevitably went to extra time and City’s players were starting to tire. Mark Hudson was forced off with cramp and Liverpool had chances aplenty through Suarez, Gerrard, Bellamy and Johnson, but a mixture of poor finishing and fine saves kept them at bay. Cardiff were finally undone in the 108th minute. Dirk Kuyt’s shot was blocked by Anthony Gerrard, only for the ball to come back to the Dutchman who drilled the ball past Heaton’s near post.

This was surely it for the Bluebirds. The team had given their absolute everything. Gunnarson could barely walk, yet his spirit to battle on epitomised a gutsy Cardiff performance. The fans were screaming their team on and when Filip Kiss saw his shot blocked on the line by Kuyt, it didn’t look like it was going to be our day.

City fans at Wembley

Then the seemingly impossible happened.

Whittingham curled in a corner that Gunnarson headed towards Turner. And then everything just stopped. At no point during this game did I allow myself to believe that we could beat Liverpool, until now. Ben Turner bundling the ball into the net is a goal that will live with me forever. Madness erupted in the stands as complete strangers embraced each other. My friend managed to cut his lip open after clashing heads with another city fan while we all celebrated, but he didn’t care. This was a historic moment for Cardiff City; to take Liverpool to penalties was an amazing achievement, even if we couldn’t go on to win it.

Although when Heaton pulled out arguably the best penalty save I’ve ever seen from Stevie G, I thought it could be our day, even more so when Adam sent his out of the stadium. This is where it landed by the way…

But it wasn’t to be, Miller and Gestede both struck their spot-kicks against the post, before our own Gerrard sent his wide to seal our fate. I am not at all ashamed by our defeat, in fact I’m massively proud of the performance the boys gave, but I will admit it is rather annoying to lose on penalties when the opposition goalkeeper didn’t even make a single save.

This game was a true “I was there” moment. One that will join the Leeds FA Cup game in 2002, Leicester and Blackpool in the playoff semi and final in 2010, and also the last game at Ninian Park against Ipswich in my books.

We’ve lost the game, but this is honestly the proudest I have ever been of Cardiff City Football Club. Our fantastic football club.

In Malky we trust!

Cardiff City

  • 22 Heaton
  • 02 McNaughton (Blake – 106′)
  • 03 Taylor
  • 05 Hudson (Gerrard – 99′)
  • 25 Turner Booked
  • 07 Whittingham
  • 08 Cowie
  • 17 Gunnarsson
  • 09 Miller
  • 15 Gestede
  • 20 Mason (Kiss – 91′ Booked)

Substitutes

  • 01 Marshall
  • 06 Gerrard
  • 18 Naylor
  • 04 Kiss
  • 11 Conway
  • 23 Blake
  • 10 Earnshaw

Liverpool

  • 25 Reina
  • 02 Johnson
  • 03 Jose Enrique
  • 05 Agger (Carragher – 86′ )
  • 37 Skrtel
  • 08 Gerrard
  • 14 Henderson Booked (Bellamy – 58′)
  • 19 Downing
  • 26 Adam
  • 07 Suarez
  • 09 Carroll (Kuyt – 103′)

Substitutes

  • 32 Doni
  • 23 Carragher
  • 34 Kelly
  • 11 Maxi
  • 20 Spearing
  • 18 Kuyt
  • 39 Bellamy
Media from Youtube user: PearsAndStairs. All photographs taken by myself.
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12 thoughts on “Cardiff City 2 Liverpool 2 (2-3 on penalties)

  1. Amazing game of football Cardiff showed true grit. I reckon malkie may be targeted by a few of the perm teams now though.

  2. Great game!!! Unfortunately I could not get a ticket to Wembly, but the tv coverage was great… Whenever Cardiff play, home or away, the fans always chant and sing louder and longer than the opposition. During the game all I could hear was the familiar chants that I usually hear at home in Cardiff. “Win or loose, I’m blue through and through”

  3. A great report James. I think you’ve managed to capture the thoughts and emotions of every Bluebird supporter who followed their team to Wembley. What a roller coaster of emotion!

  4. Being a ‘Jack’ I couldn’t possibly comment on the fact that the best team didn’t win on this occasion. The performances of Turner, Hudson and Whittingham deserve a mention, and I can hand on heart say I was gutted with the final result. I found a size 5 mitre football in my back garden that Sunday night and the only place it could have come from was Charlie Adam’s left footed penalty attempt! All in all, it was a shame the trophy didn’t return to Legoland, I mean, it would have been nice for the Welsh team in the lower leagues to have some glory 😉

  5. Totally agree Cardiff so unlucky to miss out on silverware. Malky certainly got the best out of his players.

  6. Think most Cardiff players stepped up a level on the day apart from the more experienced Kenny Miller! Ultimately when you get to a final, winning is the only thing that matters. Interesting to read a ‘Bluebird’ perspective on it.

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