Carroll in ‘best’ mood after dramatic strike
WEMBLEY, England - The Associated PressWritten off as Liverpool’s most expensive flop, record signing Andy Carroll is finally starting to deliver and his team has an FA Cup appearance to show for it.
For the first time since arriving 15 months ago for 35 million pounds, the former Newcastle striker has scored in consecutive games.
An 87th-minute header completed a comeback against Everton and clinched a 2-1 victory that kept the League Cup winners on course for a cup double.
“It’s the best feeling ever,” Carroll said. “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.” But the Wembley winner was only Carroll’s tenth goal in 51 Liverpool appearances, dismal form that has been a key factor in his side’s Premier League struggles.
“Andy’s always in the spotlight because of how much we paid for him,” Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said. “He has taken the criticism on the chin and he has responded very well and is the hero getting us the winner. That’s what we bought him for, to score big goals, and he’s delivered.”
The spotlight on Saturday was whether Liverpool would be affected by the sudden firing of director of football Damien Comolli two days before the semifinal.
Comolli paid the price for a wretched league campaign despite presiding over the spending of more than $180 million on players in a little more than a year.
The most expensive player was Carroll, who also netted the league winner at Blackburn last week.
But against Everton, the England international hesitated with the goal in his sight after just three minutes, instead teeing up Jay Spearing, who swept the ball over.
With both Liverpool goalkeepers Alexander Doni and Pepe Reina suspended, Brad Jones had to make his first start of the season. While the Australian was picking the ball out of his goal after 23 minutes, his dithering defenders were at fault.
Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger both hesitated as the ball landed between them, and Carragher’s eventual attempted clearance rebounded off Tim Cahill. The ball fell at the feet of Nikica Jelavic, who shot under Jones.
But Liverpool was gifted an equalizer. Sylvain Distin’s attempt to pass the ball back to goalkeeper Tim Howard was far too weak and Luis Suarez nipped in to seize possession and score.
And in the 87th minute, Carroll rose above Marouane Fellaini to meet Craig Bellamy’s free kick and send the ball into the net with the back of his head.