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Gerrard hails Reds hero

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard led the celebrations as his side ended a near six-year wait to qualify for a major domestic final.

The Reds booked their place in the Carling Cup showpiece with Cardiff by seeing off Manchester City -- their first appearance in a domestic final since 2006 when they beat West Ham to the FA Cup in Cardiff and the February 26 meeting will be their first Wembley appearance since 1996.

"It's a great feeling, it's been a while," Gerrard said. "Since playing at Cardiff in 2006, it's been too long for this club. I'm delighted for everyone, especially the fans."

Gerrard was in no doubt as to who his side's star man was, with Bellamy hitting the decisive goal after City's Joe Hart had produced a stunning one-man show to keep Liverpool at bay.

"Craig was the difference," Gerrard added. "His pace was always a threat and we know that if a chance falls to him he can finish. It's a big thanks to him. We had to be positive and brave. Man City have so much quality and our decision to attack them paid off."

Bellamy will get to face his hometown club in the final, as well as the side he played for last season.

"The omens were looking good going into tonight after I saw Cardiff go through," the striker said. " I was delighted for them and this couldn't be a better final for me. Cardiff means so much to me. It's funny how football can work out at times."

Manager Kenny Dalglish shared the enthusiasm of his captain and also thanked City for allowing Bellamy to join them in the summer.

"It was a fantastic performance, although the game finished a draw, we were deserved qualifiers," the Scot said. "Craig was unbelievable. If Man City have anyone else like that that they don't want to keep, they know where we are."

Irish Independent