Delighted Andy Carroll basks in Wembley glory

Liverpool striker Andy Carroll savoured his Wembley winner on Saturday after scoring the late goal that fired the Reds to victory over Everton and into the FA Cup final.

Updated: April 14, 2012 21:31 IST
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London: Liverpool striker Andy Carroll savoured his Wembley winner on Saturday after scoring the late goal that fired the Reds to victory over Everton and into the FA Cup final.

Carroll has been derided as a £35 million misfit after struggling to settle at Anfield in his first full season at the club following his record transfer from Newcastle in January last year.

But the pony-tailed England striker was the toast of Liverpool's travelling fans on Saturday after heading home an 87th-minute winner to clinch a 2-1 win.

"It's the best feeling ever. We worked hard and getting the goal right there at the end was great," Carroll told ESPN afterwards.

"I had a few chances and should have probably scored earlier.

"But I kept at it and it was a great ball in by Craig (Bellamy), and I just had to score with that one and I did.

"It's a great feeling. I've had some criticism but I've just kept on going. I get the winner here and it's a great feeling.

"I believe in myself every day."

Carroll's winner came after the striker had endured a difficult game which saw him miss one golden chance to equalise when he headed wide on 47 minutes before scuffing two more promising chances wide.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard praised Carroll's character in being able to maintain his concentration despite the disappointing near-misses.

"He doesn't hide and he takes criticism on the chin," Gerrard said. "That's what we bought him for, to score big goals, and he's delivered today."

"We were superb in the second half. We showed superb character. Certain players have had criticism this week but they've stood up today.

"It's superb to be in the final.

"It's great to deliver and one more step and we're there."

Liverpool veteran Jamie Carragher also paid tribute to Carroll and Liverpool's other goalscorer Luis Suarez, who had cancelled out Nikica Jelavic's first-half opener for Everton.

"He will be remembered forever," Carragher said of Carroll. "That goal is worth £35m alone for me and I wouldn't swap Luis Suarez for any other player."

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish refused to single out Carroll for praise however, preferring to hail his side's achievement in reaching two Wembley finals as a "fantastic" collective effort.

"I think it was fantastic and although it's not been too good in the league recently, that's two cup finals - one we've won and won we're looking forward to," Dalglish said.

"That gives everybody who supports Liverpool Football Club a lift. We're very proud and pleased that we're in the final."

Everton manager David Moyes said mistakes at crucial times had been his team's undoing, most notably when defender Sylvain Distin gifted Liverpool their equaliser midway through the second half.

"We were just beginning to get back in the game when obviously we made a mistake and that gave Liverpool a bit more impetus," Moyes said, revealing that Distin had been distraught in the dressing room.

"He's really down," Moyes said. "He's an experienced player. He's been here a couple of times before, he's won the cup before with Portsmouth.

"He knows exactly what it means and how important it is. He's been great for us Sylvain and just today a mistake let Liverpool back in. I always fancied us to nick a second goal in the second half but it wasn't to be.

"Look, there was very little margins between the two games. It was mistakes that changed the game. I thought beforehand there would be one or two defining moments and those defining moments were there for all to see."

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