Andy Carroll lifts Liverpool into final

Updated: April 17, 2012, 10:33 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

WEMBLEY, England -- Liverpool striker Andy Carroll headed the winner in the 87th minute to clinch a 2-1 comeback victory over Everton at Wembley on Saturday and secure a place in the FA Cup final.

For the first time since arriving 15 months ago for $56 million, the striker has scored in consecutive games.

"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 10th goal in 51 Liverpool appearances, dismal form that has been a key factor in his side's Premier League struggles.

With Manchester United not playing until Sunday, the spotlight Saturday was on the FA Cup and whether Liverpool would be affected by the sudden firing of director of soccer 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 netted the league winner at Blackburn on Tuesday night.

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.

Despite dominating the game, Steven Gerrard's long-range strike was the closest Liverpool got to an equalizer but Carroll squandered a golden opening at the start of the second half.

An inviting cross from the right presented Carroll with a free header but he flicked it wide before pulling his shirt over his head in frustration.

Everton responded to its opener by also gifting Liverpool 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 the ball 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.

"I had a few chances and should have probably scored earlier," the former Newcastle player said. "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."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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