The third time was a charm for Liverpool striker Andy Carroll, and it was enough to deny Everton goalie Tim Howard another shot at the FA Cup title.
Carroll, having already missed two golden chances on net, headed home the game-winner for the Reds in the 87th minute to send them into the final against the winner of Sunday's Chelsea-Tottenham match. Everton, which fell to Chelsea in the 2009 final, lost grip on its second-half lead and will return to league play and attempt a sixth consecutive Top-10 finish. The Toffees are currently in 7th place, one point ahead of Liverpool.
In front of more than 87,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, Howard's team took the lead in the 24th minute on a defensive miscue by Liverpool's Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher. The two backs hesitated while converging on the ball, which led to a sloppy, delayed clearance by Carragher. The ball ricocheted off Tim Cahill and onto the foot of Nikica Jelavic, who calmly drilled it into the net. Everton took that lead into halftime.
Liverpool came within a few feet of equalizing in the 47th minute when Carroll, the Reds' expensive disappointment on the front line, was off-target on his close-range header. Carroll missed another opportunity later in the second half when his left-footed shot at the top of the box beat Howard, but missed the target a foot to the right.
The Reds tied the game when Everton returned the favor with a defensive disaster in the 62nd minute. Sylvain Distin did not see, feel nor sense Luis Suarez breathing down his neck when he passed a lazy ball back to seemingly nobody (Howard and John Heitinga weren't even close) in the defensive third. Suarez raced onto the ball and sliced it past Howard with the outside of his right foot to even the score.
Carroll, who scored a late, game-winner earlier this week in a league victory over Blackburn, rescued Liverpool once again. His header amidst a pile of defenders, including an awestruck Marouane Fellaini, kept Liverpool's hopes of an historic double alive and well. Liverpool won the Carling Cup earlier this year.
Howard and Everton will try to bounce back in another high-profile match April 22 against league leaders Manchester United.