Gerrard puts Liverpool on verge of Wembley return

MANCHESTER CITY 0 vs LIVERPOOL 1

LIVERPOOL captain Steven Gerrard accused Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini of hypocrisy after putting his side within touching distance of Wembley by scoring the only goal of last night’s fractious Carling Cup semi-final first leg.

The England midfielder capped a fine all-round display with the 13th minute penalty that ensured Liverpool will hold an advantage when the two teams reconvene at Anfield in a fortnight’s time.

After exiting the FA Cup on Sunday at the hands of Manchester United, Mancini cut an agitated figure last night as his side struggled to find a way past a resolute red wall.

The Italian’s misery was compounded late on when referee Lee Mason failed to take action against Glen Johnson for a tackle on Joleon Lescott, similar in nature to the one which saw City skipper Vincent Kompany sent-off against United.

“I want to see the tackle by Johnson. I thought that was worse (than Kompany’s),” said Mancini, who accused Wayne Rooney of helping to get his captain sent-off by haranguing Sunday’s official Chris Foy.

But Gerrard dismissed the Italian’s claims and warned his team-mates they cannot afford to assume a trip to Wembley for the first time since it re-opened in 2007 is a foregone conclusion.

“It surprises me because he had a go at Wayne Rooney. Now he has had a go at one of ours,” said Gerrard, who had earlier beaten England team-mate Joe Hart from 12 yards after Stefan Savic’s clumsy challenge on Daniel Agger. “There is absolutely no way this game is done and dusted, the job is half done.”

MATCH ANALYSIS

JAMES GOLDMAN

TALKING POINT
Out of the FA Cup, second favourites to make the Carling Cup final, missing key players – talk of a crisis might be stretching the truth but certainly it seems as if City’s season is at a crossroads. At a time when composure and cool heads are required, Mancini’s post-match response to Glen Johnson’s tackle suggested the pressure is starting to get to the Italian.