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Football: Cardiff Make Carling Cup 2011/12 Final After Nail-Biting Penalty Shootout

Cardiff City have made it through to the 2011/12 Carling Cup Final after coming from behind in their two-legged tie with Crystal Palace to record a 1-1 Aggregate draw. After Extra Time failed to split the two Championship sides, Cardiff eventually won through 3-1 in a penalty shootout.

Cardiff came into the second, home, leg of this two legged Semi-Final needing a win to progress after Crystal Palace won the first leg 1-0, but any nerves which might have come into their match were settled quite early in this the second leg when Gardner – Palace’s goalscorer a week ago – put into his own net after just seven minutes. Don Cowie had put in a dangerous cross from the right, which Gardner, trying to clear, headed into his own goal.

Despite this early goal, and Cardiff dominating for much of the match, the Bluebirds failed to add the further goal that would see them through. The aggregate score remained 1-1 throughout, even as Cardiff racked up the shot count into double figures of shots on target, and hit the woodwork on several occasions.

For Palace, an away goal would have been important, as it would have meant the hosts having to score not once, but twice, to put them out. However, the visitors failed to put even one shot on target in the 90 minutes, a task made admittedly far harder on 78 minutes when Crystal Palace captain, centre half McCarthy, was sent off following his second bookable offence.

Palace clung on for dear life throughout both periods of Extra Time, and might have been relieved to have made it that far. It was not to be, though, as Cardiff’s goalkeeper on the night, Tom Heaton, despite not having been in action for much of the evening, was sharp enough to save both of Palace’s first spot kicks – from Jermaine Easter and Sean Scannell.

Soon after, despite a miss from Kenny Miller, Cardiff were celebrating their passage to the Carling Cup 2012 Final, when Palace’s Jonathan Parr missed the target, giving Cardiff City a 3-1 win in the shootout.

Cardiff will face the winner’s of Wednesday’s Semi-Final between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley on February 26th 2012. Liverpool lead that Semi-final 1-0 after the first leg.

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Stories from the Sport Desk at The Global Herald.

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