Gerrard, Dalglish praise hero Bellamy

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

Liverpool vs Man City: Craig Bellamy

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 on aggregate on Wednesday night - a 2-2 draw coming on the back of their 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium a fortnight ago.

As he was then, Gerrard was on target from the penalty spot again on Wednesday night, equalising after Nigel de Jong's opener, before Craig Bellamy, a former City striker, scored after Edin Dzeko had put the visitors to Anfield 2-1 up on the night.

Liverpool last reached a domestic final in 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 told Sky Sports 1.

"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 who his side's star man was, with Bellamy hitting the decisive goal after City goalkeeper 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.

"Joe is a big character but I don't feel sorry for him. He's a top keeper and he will play in many finals. But it's our turn now and we have to go and lift that trophy."

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 [Wednesday] 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.

Dalglish said: "He works hard but the quality of the boy as well - the second goal was fantastic, how he took it.

"We are delighted for Craig and we are delighted with Craig.

"If City have got any more like him that they want rid of, we are only down the East Lancs Road.

"We have spoken about him many times in the past and waxed lyrical about him.

"He was fantastic tonight [Wednesday] but every single one of them was."

Liverpool have not only not won a trophy for six years, but were creaking under vast debt until their takeover by Fenway Sports Group in October 2010.

Dalglish said: "It is great for the people who stood by us, because it has not been too easy a time for everybody at the football club over the last couple of years or so.

"I've said many times before, if we all stick together we will be a stronger force.

"This is a huge reward for everybody who has got an affiliation for Liverpool in any way, shape or form."

Liverpool won the FA Cup at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in 2006 but have not played at Wembley since their defeat in the final of that competition in 1996.

Dalglish said: "We know where we are going. Maybe we have forgotten the route, but I am sure the driver will remember.

"For us, this is for everybody at the football club."

Despite the jubilation at the final whistle, Dalglish insisted little had been achieved so far.

The club are still labouring in seventh place in the Premier League and are facing a fight in their prime objective of qualifying for the Champions League.

Dalglish, who heavily criticised his players after Saturday's disappointing loss at Bolton, said: "We have reached Wembley, that is all we have achieved so far. We have not been there for a while.

"That in itself is an achievement but that is not where our ambitions stop.

"We want to continue and do as well as we can between now and the end of the season.

"We will just enjoy the moment tonight [Wednesday] and then concentrate on a difficult game on Saturday."

Liverpool will now turn their attention to the FA Cup, with arch-rivals Manchester United visiting Anfield on Saturday.

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