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Liverpool into League Cup final
Updated: 2005-01-26 09:33

Captain Steven Gerrard has sealed Liverpool's place in next month's League Cup final by scoring the winner in a gritty 1-0 victory over second division Watford.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard (L) reacts after scoring the opening goal against Watford during the Carling Cup semi-final second leg match at Vicarage Road in Watford. [AFP]

The England midfielder, who also scored in Liverpool's 1-0 win in the first leg of their semi-final at Anfield, struck a neat right-foot shot into the corner in the 77th minute on Tuesday to round off a resilient display.

Liverpool will face the winners of Wednesday's match at Old Trafford between FA Cup holders Manchester United and Premier League leaders Chelsea in the final in Cardiff on February 27. United and Chelsea drew the first leg 0-0.

Liverpool's victory also put an end to a run of three consecutive defeats for Rafael Benitez's side, including a highly embarrassing 1-0 FA Cup loss to another second division side, Burnley.

They will be looking for their eighth League Cup success in Cardiff and match-winner Gerrard told Sky Sports television: "Watford have done really well and made it hard for us...but we had a game plan and it worked.

"It's not about my goals, it's the team performance over the two games."

Watford's hopes of a second major final after their 1984 FA Cup loss to Everton never looked like being realised, particularly after they had a first-half penalty appeal dismissed by referee Mike Riley.

With Iceland's Heidar Helguson starting out as a lone striker in front of a five-man midfield, Watford showed all the enthusiasm of a second division side playing on the big stage. But there was no disguising their limitations.

Promising first-half runs by Jay DeMerit and Neal Ardley and a string of other moves were let down by poor passing when it mattered while Liverpool always looked more assured in possession despite a bumpy pitch.

Benitez's side had to wait until midway through the first half, though, to create their first scoring chance when Gerrard put Fernando Morientes in for a shot which keeper Paul Jones turned round the post for a corner.


Liverpool followed up with a rapid breakaway led by Gerrard, who should have let fly instead of electing to pass as he steamed into the Watford area, but they too rode their luck just before the break.

Watford's French forward Hameur Bouazza went down in the box under a mis-timed challenge by Liverpool defender Steve Finnan but referee Riley waved away the penalty appeals.

Watford made a brighter start to the second half, with left back Jermaine Darlington's drive being blocked, while Morientes suffered the same fate at the other end.

However, there was a dire shortage of clearcut chances on a cold night at Vicarage Road and Liverpool looked ready to settle for a draw when Gerrard smacked home his shot from the edge of the area.

Watford piled on the pressure in the closing stages but their only reward was the applause of the home fans at the final whistle.

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