Carroll: It's the best feeling ever
Andy Carroll headed Liverpool through to the FA Cup final and said: "It's the best feeling ever.''
Andy Carroll: 'It's the best feeling ever'
The £35 million striker was the Wembley hero for Kenny Dalglish's side, netting to earn a 2-1 win over Everton. It was a rare moment of joy for the former Newcastle man, who has faced frequent criticism this season.
He headed in a free-kick from substitute Craig Bellamy in the 87th minute after Luis Suarez had earlier wiped out Nikica Jelavic's opener after a dreadful error from Sylvain Distin.
Carroll told ESPN: "It's the best feeling ever. We worked hard and getting the goal right there at the end was great. I had a few chances and should have probably scored earlier.
"But I kept at it and it was a great ball in by Craig, and I just had to score with that one and I did. It's a great feeling. 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.''
While Carroll was right in pointing out he should have netted earlier, most obviously when he missed an easier headed chance than the one he converted, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard commended his spirit.
"He doesn't hide and he takes criticism on the chin,'' Gerrard said. "That's what we bought him for, to score big goals, and he's delivered today.''
Gerrard added: "We were superb in the second half. We showed superb character. Certain players have had criticism this week but they've stood up today. It's superb to be in the final. It's great to deliver and one more step and we're there.''
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish insists the club remain ''a work in progress'' and won't get carried away.
''It is called a work in progress,'' he said. ''We have said that many times before and there is no need for us to change. After the Carling Cup I said we are not the finished article and we are saying the same thing now.''
Nevertheless, after what Dalglish accepts has been a difficult period, culminating in the departure of director of football Damien Comolli on Thursday, a rather strange season would surely be regarded as a success if Liverpool ended it as a double trophy winner.
''Winning gives you a good feeling,'' he said. ''If you can't enjoy winning, you might as well put the lid on the box because it is time up. Whether it helps or hinders lies with the individual.
''You can get a taste of it, think it is great for us to go forward and try and win something else because you enjoyed that so much or you can go complacent and say that is great we have won a trophy, that is all I wanted to do.
''The most important thing is that the players want to be more successful than they have been.''
Dalglish spread the praise amongst his entire squad rather than concentrate on the character of one individual, no matter how high profile.
''It is testament to everybody's character,'' he said. ''They have held themselves together and had the resolve to come back and respond positive to what has not been a great period in the club's history. It is not a time for us to sit down and individualise performances and go through everyone who has been on the pitch.
Steven Gerrard: We showed character
''It is a time for us to enjoy the moment, be respectful to Everton and over the next two or three days get back to work and make sure we are fully focussed on the league games and the cup finals still to come. It is not a tap you can turn on and off. If we don't keep going we won't get success.''
Everton boss David Moyes accepted his side only had themselves to blame.
''It was our own fault today because we gave them the opportunities,'' he said on ESPN. ''Any goals, you always look to try to correct them. We'd all done all the job. We'd done well in the game. They'd missed one chance from Andy Carroll at the back post early on. The rest of it we were coping with it fine.
''But that's what happens and that's why if you make mistakes it doesn't win you trophies. Unfortunately today we made the mistake, which probably gave us no chance of making the final.
''I thought we were always going to have to deal with Liverpool in the second half. They were 1-0 down in the semi-final of the cup - if it was the other way round we'd be the same. Liverpool started brightly. I thought we'd weathered it and hoped we might get a second. As it was we just got ourselves into a wee bit of trouble.
''Obviously we're really sorry and disappointed for the supporters who came here after the way we've been playing - we've been playing well. But today we just succumbed to a couple of poor decisions.''
Moyes could only offer words of sympathy for Distin, who apologised to Everton's supporters after the game. However, there was no hiding the fact Moyes felt the badly-hit back-pass was the game's turning point.
''Sylvain is really down,'' said Moyes. ''He has been here a couple of times before and has won the FA Cup before with Portsmouth. He knows exactly what it means and how important it is. He has been great for us so far.
''But I said there would be little between the teams. I thought there would be defining moments and they were there for all to see.''
It maintained an unhappy sequence of big-game defeats for Everton against their fierce city rivals, which did not make Moyes feel any better about his plight.
''It is not just me who as a manager has had to sit here and do this at Everton,'' he said. ''There was always a chance that would happen. You are playing against a big football club aren't you?
''But I thought the way we had been playing it was our chance. Liverpool have not been where they would like to be and we had been playing well. That is why the game was very even and there was very little between the two teams. But a couple of small margins changed the result. I feel for them all. We are all in it together, whether it is someone who makes a mistake or not. That is the way it is here.''