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Reds rule Merseyside derby

Written By: Robert Halter

In the first of the F.A. Cup semi finals at Wembley, it was an all Merseyside affair as the red half of Liverpool confronted the blue half of Everton. The Reds started the derby brightly as Jay Spearing powered the ball over the top, after Andy Carroll carved an opening in the Toffees penalty area, after two minutes of play. But Everton pressed on five minutes and gained a free kick, after Daniel Agger’s challenge on Nikica Jelavic was penalised by referee Howard Webb but it counted for nothing as Leighton Baines struck the dead ball on top of the stanchion. The fortune favoured the Toffees on twenty four minutes, as Jamie Carragher’s failed clearance cannoned into Tim Cahill and the ball broke into the path of Jelavic, who rolled his shot past the Reds third choice goalkeeper Brad Jones, into the centre of the net. Jelavic was in the fold again three minutes from the end of normal time in the first half, as he came off the floor from a challenge by Martin Skrtel, to sail a free kick wide of the target. Liverpool missed a gilt edge chance at the start of the second half, as a well placed right wing cross from Stewart Downing, was headed wide by Carroll from under the near post. A defensive howler by Sylvain Distin got Liverpool back in the game on sixty two minutes, as Distin’s poor back pass found Luis Suarez in error, who ran clean through and slid the ball past Tim Howard into the left side of the goal. Another opportunity fell Carroll’s way on seventy eight minutes but he drove the ball wide of the target, after Agger had found space. Four minutes later, Jelavic crashed a shot against the outside of the side netting, after Marouane Fellaini’s header had opened up the Reds defence. But it was the Reds celebrating in the eighty sixth minute, after a needless foul by Seamus Coleman on Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, and from the left flank, second half substitute Craig Bellamy floated in a free kick that Carroll met with a powerful header to flick the ball over the top, into the right half of the net. A minute from the end of normal time, Maxi Rodriguez could have wrapped the game up as he slid onto a Suarez pass, but brushed his effort against the left post, although by then the Reds were on their way to the 2012 FA Cup Final and a return back to Wembley on May 5, the scene of their Carling Cup victory back in February.