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By Sam Lyon
2245: Now then, if it's Cup competitions that float your boat, you'll want to rejoin me on Saturday for all your FA Cup fourth-round chat, yes? Good. Before then, don't forget to check out The League Cup Show from 2320 GMT on BBC Two and Online tonight. It'll be good, especially if you're an Arsenal or Birmingham fan. Bye!
LIVERPOOL 1-0 FULHAM Mandeep Sanghera
reports: "Liverpool had to dig in to grind out a win over a Fulham side who might have got something from the game had they shown the same intent at 0-0 as they did when 1-0 down."
2238: As we wind down, then, let's hear from our match reporters...
ElSquirrel on 606:
"I expect nothing less than a brutish display from Brum in the cup final. They can play football, but they'll come at the Gunners hard and often."
2235: Birmingham boss Alex McLeish: "We tried our best in the first half but we huffed and puffed. Bringing on striker Nikola Zigic made the difference. I'm filled with pride knowing I'll be leading the team out at Wembley. I've got to finals in Scotland but to come to England and get to Wembley is a dream come true."
Alex via text: "Good effort boys. We got this far and it's good. Now concentrate on staying up!"
2233: That final on the 27 February, by the way, will be Birmingham's first major final at Wembley for 55 years. Nice. I mean, yes, Birmingham reached the League Cup final in 2001 of course, but that was at the Millennium Stadium. I thank the Press Association for that particular stat. Tenuous-tastic?
The Sergio Busquets on 606:
"We're firm favourites, as you would expect, but please Gooners, let's not write Birmingham off. They've got to the final by merit, and will give their all. I mean, how many times have we been struck down by our own arrogance this season? Too many to remember. Here's hoping for a good cup final."
Nathan via text: "Devastated... absolutely devastated."
2227: A couple of Birmingham heroes have been talking to Sky Sports, Craig Gardner saying: "We knew we would perform well at home. We fancied ourselves." And keeper Ben Foster added: "We've got nothing to lose in the final against Arsenal. We got to go there and play like we did in the second half and in extra-time."
2222: And while you get your heads round that Birmingham come-from-behind win, you may be after a reminder of how Arsenal got to Wembley. Why not check out
our highlights video
if you're a UK user?
2220: And there it is, we have our Carling Cup Final line-up. Arsenal will play Birmingham on Sunday, 27 February at Wembley - and St Andrew's is absolutely jumping as a result. What a comeback from the hosts after looking bang in trouble 45 minutes into this match. West Ham, on the other hand, look understandably crushed.
2217: FULL-TIME Birmingham 3-1 West Ham (agg 4-3)
2216: Not likely, Birmingham are killing this game quite efficiently. The Blues moments away from confirming their place in the Carling Cup final against Arsenal, here...
2215: One last attack from West Ham?
2215: All of a sudden it's Birmingham who look likeliest to score with West Ham caught pushing upfield. And the hosts are more than happy to waste a few moments in the corners...
2213: What a chance for Birmingham to wrap it up, David Murphy striding through on goal one-on-one but dallying far too long and allowing Rob Green to get out and pull off an excellent stop. Hope remains for West Ham...
2212: Birmingham defending stoutly, West Ham fast running out of ideas, into the final three minutes.
2210: Chance! Carlton Cole has a go with an overhead kick from a corner - replays suggest he may have handled it in setting up the chance - but Birmingham keeper Ben Foster is firmly behind it anyway. West Ham continue to plug away... into the last five minutes.
2208: We're into the last seven minutes. West Ham probing without joy, still...
2206: Deary me. Julien Faubert - he used to play for Real Madrid, you know - slices an attempted cross horribly and it flies behind the Birmingham goal. West Ham's attacks just lacking an incisive edge in this half of extra-time.
2204: Benni McCarthy, on for the Hammers, is forming part of a very attacking West Ham side now - unsurprisingly - and Birmingham look like they're going to sit back in these closing 10-15 minutes. Dangerous?
2201: Here we go then. What a final 15 minutes we have in store at St Andrew's. This really has been the most wonderful drama so far.
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at St Andrew's: "Birmingham threw everything forward to get the lead - but have since sat back and both Scott Parker and Kieron Dyer should have scored for West Ham. Expect plenty of frayed nerves in the next 15 minutes."
2158: EXTRA-TIME HT: Birmingham 3-1 West Ham (agg 4-3)
2157: Birmingham look ever so nervous here.
2155: And the chances keep coming for West Ham. Julien Faubert's cross, this time, is deflected to Kieron Dyer, but the substitute's instinctive volley from inside the area dips over the bar.
Vinny the Dog via text: "Credit to both sides for a great cup tie... Watch out Arsenal."
2153: ...and that was so nearly it for the Hammers, Scott Parker bundling his way into some space in the Birmingham box but then, with seemingly just the keeper to beat, lashing wide from just outside the six-yard area.
2152: A reminder for anyone writing West Ham off, by the way - a goal for them now and they go through to the final on away goals. Plenty - plenty - still to play for at St Andrew's.
2150: Fulham players all over the Anfield pitch with their heads in their hands - they feel they did enough to get something out of that game. Their failure to turn their pressure into goals, though, means Liverpool earn a second straight win to move up into seventh in the Premier League table.
2149: FULL-TIME Liverpool 1-0 Fulham
Southern Football League Danny: "GOAL FOR SWINDON! But they still lost. And it's Swindon Supermarine, not Swindon Town. Salisbury beat 'em 2-1."
Birmingham goal: Third time lucky for Craig Gardner. Stephen Carr bursts forward and feeds Gardner, who has all the time in the world to pick his spot, smashing into the corner from 20 yards. West Ham on the ropes, now.
2147: GOALFLASH Birmingham 3-1 West Ham (agg 4-3) (Gardner)
2146: We'll have three added minutes at Anfield.
2143: What have Fulham got to do to score here? This time Clint Dempsey gets a head on a Danny Murphy free-kick and Moussa Dembele forces his shot goalwards from eight yards out, but Pepe Reina scrambles it away. Liverpool just about hanging on in these closing minutes.
2142: A quick drink sunk, and we're up and running in extra time at St Andrew's.
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at St Andrew's: "Craig Gardner thought he had taken Birmingham to Wembley with almost the last kick of the game. Instead we'll have an extra 30 minutes - and Alex McLeish will feel the momentum is with his side."
2139: FULL-TIME Birmingham 2-1 West Ham (agg 3-3) That's the last action of normal time and so we go into extra-time at St Andrew's. How vital a save might that prove from Green? Drama.
2137: Incredible! Birmingham are literally within a coat or two of paint away from Wembley as Craig Gardner fires in a superb low strike in the third minute of stoppage time which crashes off the post - and replays show Rob Green got a crucial touch on it.
2136: And now it's off the line! Brede Hangeland's header from the resulting corner is hacked away from goal by Liverpool's Raul Meireles. So close for Fulham.
2136: Good effort from Fulham defender Aaron Hughes, his header from a corner tipped around the post by Pepe Reina.
2135: West Ham finishing the stronger in Birmingham, and a surging Jonathan Spector run almost yields a shot on target - only for Hammers new boy Gary O'Neil to fire wide from the tightest of angles.
2133: More handbags! It's at St Andrew's, this time, as Birmingham midfielder Barry Ferguson has a little at Kieron Dyer, who reacts with a volley of rather choice phrases. A booking each.
2131: It's all gone a bit Scrappy Doo at Anfield, though that suits Liverpool right now.
2128: It's hardly all Birmingham since that tie-leveller at St Andrew's, I must say, and Mark Noble has just drifted a dipping half-volley narrowly over the home bar from 20 yards out. Time for some late drama maybe?
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at St Andrew's: "Has anyone ever said what a strange game football is? Birmingham's players get a right old raspberry from their fans at half-time and now they are being backed to the full in the bedlam of St Andrew's after turning this Carling Cup semi-final around. All level and all to play for..."
2125: At Anfield, meanwhile, we've had some rather fractious moments involving John Pantsil - and you know what that means... the handbags graphic! Ah, we love it. The Fulham man receives a booking in the end, but there's a lot more hot air than push and shove in the fracas and it's all much ado about nothing.
Birmingham goal: We're on for extra-time... and it's been coming. Roger Johnson pulls Birmingham level in the tie with a thumping header into the ground from a Lee Bowyer corner - and St Andrew's is jumping once more.
2123: GOALFLASH Birmingham 2-1 West Ham (agg 3-3) (Johnson)
2121: Ooh. Danny Murphy has a pump from a free-kick 25 yards, but his effort curls by the far post. Soon after, on comes Jonjo Shelvey - I've been impressed with the Liverpool youngster of late, I must say.
2118: Approaching the last 15 minutes at St Andrews and already matters are getting more than a little stretched, Carlton Cole this time going close for the visitors with a dipping shot that Ben Foster saves well.
2115: Nice moment at Anfield, there, as a few Mark Hughes kick-ups bring a warm round of applause from Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, which in turn results in a hug between the pair. Lot of love at Anfield.
2114: Snap long-ranger from Barry Ferguson, well saved by Rob Green.
2113: Snap volley from Clint Dempsey, well saved by Pepe Reina.
roryburling on Twitter: "You just never know what you're going to get with West Ham, do you?"
2111: Back over at St Andrew's and it's all Birmingham. Nikola Zigic has made a big impact there, and that's not me telling tall stories. That really would be the height of unprofessionalism.
Liverpool goal: It's not going to win any goal of the month awards, but Liverpool care not a jot. Fernando Torres's low shot is deflected on to the Fulham upright, the ball bounces around between visiting keeper David Stockdale, Chris Baird and John Panstil until, finally, the latter slices it into his own net from all of a yard. Advantage Liverpool.
2107: GOALFLASH Liverpool 1-0 Fulham (Pantsil og)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at St Andrew's: "The introduction of Nikola Zigic - not the most subtle of ploys - has sparked Birmingham into life and suddenly they are all over West Ham United. Lee Bowyer's thunderous strike has completely altered the mood around St Andrew's and there is real hope among the home supporters."
Birmingham goal: Wayne Bridge's possible handball is immediately forgotten as Lee Bowyer returns to haunt his former club, drilling a superb effort into the net after Nikola Zigic causes problems from the resulting corner. Game. On.
2103: GOALFLASH Birmingham 1-1 West Ham (agg 2-3) (Bowyer)
2102: Massive penalty appeal at St Andrew's as Wayne Bridge, under the high ball inside the box, deflects the ball behind with his arm. Did he mean it, though?
2100: The second half of Liverpool 0-0 Fulham kicks off.
MrEasy1 on Twitter:
"Speaking of England, what about young Martin Kelly? Very impressive for Liverpool so far, future England right-back anyone?"
2057: None more so than than as the big Serbian nods down for Craig Gardner to hook a curling effort goalwards from 20 yards - but the Birmingham midfielder can only hang his head in disbelief as he watches it crash off one post, across goal, and away. So, so close.
2056: Nikola Zigic, on as a Birmingham half-time substitute for Matt Derbyshire, is already making an impact.
2054: A bit more urgency about Birmingham in the opening minutes of the half, perhaps, but Sebastian Larsson's speculative effort from range is easily held by Hammers keeper Rob Green low down.
2051: And here's some more bad news for Birmingham fans... Avram Grant has only gone and pulled
his lucky scarf
on following the half-time break. It's all going against the Blues.
2049: No rest for the wicked... we're back under way at St Andrew's, where Birmingham have it all to do. The Blues, by the way, have not managed a home win since their quarter-final victory over Aston Villa on 1 December. Hhmm...
2047: HALF-TIME Liverpool 0-0 Fulham Mandeep Sanghera's
HT snap-shot: "The assistant referee and Fulham keeper David Stockdale have foiled Liverpool and, although a resolute Fulham almost took advantage, it's goalless."
2046: There's the half-time whistle at Anfield.
2044: Another half chance for Liverpool, Fernando Torres just unable to get his header on the run on target from another Martin Kelly cross.
2041: You know I said the last two league matches at Anfield between Liverpool and Fulham ended goalless? Well, erm...
Kopmeister1 on Twitter:
"Chants of "There's Only One Sian Massey" at Anfield. We expected that after that offside decision early on."
2038: In other news, fans of watching football (so that should be, er, everyone reading this) should be aware of the following information. Match of the Day 2 is now available for UK users
on the BBC iPlayer
and features every goal from the weekend's Premier League action. And, as if that wasn't enough, the League Cup Show is on BBC Two from 2320 GMT tonight - that will also be available on the BBC Sport website for you UK dwellers.
2035: HALF-TIME Birmingham 0-1 West Ham (agg 1-3) Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at St Andrew's: "West Ham halfway down the road to Wembley, with Birmingham short of ideas and inspiration. Vital 15 minutes for Alex McLeish to somehow inject some belief into his players."
2033: Scramble! Ish! Glen Johnson ghosts into the Fulham area from the left but Fernando Torres's snap-shot from his pull-back is well blocked and Fulham can hack clear.
2032: Half-time whistle at St Andrew's.
2029: And now, right against the run of play, Fulham forge two fine chances in a minute. The first, a shot from Clint Dempsey, is well saved by Pepe Reina, and then Moussa Dembele should do so much better from Andrew Johnson's cut back from the left touchline, but his left-foot swinger is tame and straight at the Liverpool keeper.
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at St Andrew's: "Ecstasy at one end of St Andrew's and growing discontent at the other. Carlton Cole, so often the sleeping giant, has put West Ham on course for Wembley and it is a thoroughly deserved lead. West Ham so much more composed and dangerous than anxious Birmingham."
2026: RE: 2025 - I'd like to officially mark this as the 'Stockdale for England' campaign. Well it worked for Bobby Zamora last year, didn't it...
2025: Here come Liverpool again, Glen Johnson cutting in from the left and slamming a rising shot at goal that Fulham keeper David Stockdale tips over the bar well. Stockdale for England...?
2023: Close! Mark Noble's free-kick looks like drifting harmlessly behind, but Zavon Hines sticks out a leg in the crowded area and hooks the ball goalwards, only for his effort to come back off the post.
2022: Fulham steadying themselves a touch at Anfield following that fast Liverpool start, the visitors just starting to get a foot on the ball.
2020: Birmingham close to pulling a goal back immediately, Matt Derbyshire with a low shot from just inside the area which West Ham keeper Rob Green manages to get a hand to and push away.
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at St Andrew's: "Since I suggested Birmingham were enjoying plenty of possession they have barely had the ball off West Ham in the last 15 minutes. Natives understandably getting restless, especially now they're a goal down..."
West Ham goal: Crackerjack. It's no less than West Ham deserve, but it's a quite stunning strike to give them the lead on the night. Carlton Cole collects Wayne Bridge's throw-in, looks up, and then crashes an unstoppable shot into the corner from fully 25 yards to give the Londoners a two-goal aggregate cushion.
2017: GOALFLASH Birmingham 0-1 West Ham (agg 1-3) (Cole)
2016: By the way, re: 2006 - if I had a pound for every Sian Massey/male linesman text/Tweet/comment I've received on the back of that poor offside decision, I'd be about £67 richer. Approximately.
2014: Fulham, by the way, have yet to lose any of the eight games in which David Stockdale has played for them so far this season. And, no, I don't believe in jinxing. Please.
2013: David Stockdale to Fulham's rescue again, though this time a little more comfortably, the Fulham keeper down to hold on to Steven Gerrard's curled long-ranger.
Holly via text: "RE: 2006 - Some men just don't know the offside rule, Sam."
2011: Top drawer save, that, top drawer. Martin Kelly's cross is flicked goalwards by Raul Meireles eight yards out, but Fulham keeper David Stockdale gets down brilliantly to palm it away right-handed. Liverpool knocking on the door here, though.
2009: West Ham, meanwhile, are playing with a confidence unbeknown to them in the league at St Andrew's and Liam Ridgewell is forced into a desperate clearance to head Carlton Cole's cross from the left away from danger inside his own box. The Birmingham defence is struggling right now, especially with such a high defensive line. The Hammers are getting in behind them time and again.
2006: Liverpool think they are 1-0 up... and so they should be. Raul Meireles sets Fernando Torres through and the Spaniard runs on to clip home, only to be pulled back the linesman's flag. Replays show, however, the Liverpool frontman was a good half a yard on when played in. Massive let-off for Fulham.
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at St Andrew's: "Birmingham having plenty of possession but encouragement for West Ham as Zavon Hines has twice tested keeper Ben Foster after getting behind the home defence. West Ham counterpart Robert Green yet to be serious tested."
2004: The half-est of half chances early doors for Fulham at Anfield, Aaron Hughes flicking Danny Murphy's deep free-kick well wide.
2002: Worth a pop. Craig Gardner lets fly with a dipper from 25 yards but unfortunately for the vociferous home fans it's high, wide and not very handsome from the Birmingham midfielder.
2000: Fulham kick us off at Anfield.
1959: The early chances being created by the Hammers at St Andrew's, and this time Carlton Cole runs on to Wayne Bridge's ball over the top... only to slap his first time effort harmlessly off target from just inside the box.
1958: The players are out and about at Anfield now, two minutes until kick-off. Steven Gerrard and Danny Murphy, former team-mates and now rival captains, had a nice little catch-up on their way out, which is nice.
1956: ...and just as I type that Mark Noble's delicious pass releases Zavon Hines down the right and the Hammers youngster forces a smart low stop from Ben Foster at his near post with a shot from the angle.
1955: If this game were any more nip and tuck right now, it'd be the star of its very own American TV reality show. Both teams bang up for it, though...
1952: It is Birmingham, though, dominating the possession early on - they've come out of the blocks just as if they're trailing 2-1 from the first leg of a Carling Cup semi-final. Oh, hang on...
1949: First effort on goal of the night at St Andrew's and it comes from West Ham, Zavon Hines's right-footer from the edge of the area saved low down by home keeper Ben Foster.
slaptonhatter_matt on 606:
"To me, the West Ham owners' decision not to go to St Andrew's tonight, shows just how far the gap between the people who run Premier League clubs and the fans has become! These fans follow their team everywhere and in a lifetime will endure many bitter journeys home - but the good trips with unexpected wins or late equalisers far outweigh the bad trips! Is a shame really!"
1946: Here we go, then, Birmingham-West Ham is up and running.
1945: A reminder, by the way, Liverpool-Fulham is a 2000 kick-off.
1944: The players are out and about at St Andrew's, then, and the atmosphere is already pumping. I just hope Mr Sullivan et al have the volume on their TVs turned up to appreciate it...
1942: LIVERPOOL v FULHAM Mandeep Sanghera reports: "One Liverpool legend will welcome back another tonight as Reds boss Kenny Dalglish has captain Steven Gerrard back available after a three-match ban. The pair will be hoping to help the side build on the win at Wolves as they face Fulham, who are without a win at Anfield in 29 games and who suffered a club record 10-0 loss at the venue in 1986 when Dalglish was in first charge of the Reds. The Cottagers have won three of their last five league games, though, and their last two visits to Liverpool, under then boss Roy Hodgson, finished 0-0."
2_hip_2b_square on Twitter:
"Got me a funny tummy, I'm that nervous for the Hammers. Hope I don't miss any goals running for the loo!" Keep your mobile with you at all times, I say, mate.
Tricky_C_COYS on Twitter:
"This late in January, it's unbelievable that there is only 10 points between the Europa League (possibly) and relegation."
bigboyzamora on 606:
"Unbiased view here: Fulham to revolt against the King and embarrass him in his own castle." Erm... 'unbiased' mate? Haha.
1934: By the way, as if Birmingham fans weren't already on the edge of their seats, I can bring you news that the Blues are stepping up their bid to sign Aston Villa central defender Curtis Davies, according to the Press Association. The transfer window shuts in... oh... five days, by the way. I can't wait to talk you through that...
1933: LIVERPOOL v FULHAM Mandeep Sanghera reports: "Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish makes one change from the win at Wolves as skipper Steven Gerrard is back from suspension and replaces Lucas Leiva, who had been struggling with a thigh strain, in midfield. Fulham boss Mark Hughes gives midfielder Steve Sidwell his first start for the club with Dickson Ethuhu ruled out because of a hamstring injury."
viperdk1 on Twitter:
"On form, you'd wager West Ham to sneak it. Though this is the Carling Cup - might flip a coin to find out who wins."
Dan, a Gooner, via text: "As an Arsenal fan I can't decide which of these two I want to face. So I'm going to support that most vague and abstract of concepts... football!"
1930: BIRMINGHAM v WEST HAM (agg 1-2) Chief football writer Phil McNulty
at St Andrew's: "Birmingham give a rare outing to Czech central defender Martin Jiranek, with Liam Ridgewell switching to left-back. Boss Alex McLeish is without the cup tied David Bentley. Sebastian Larsson, Craig Gardner and Lee Bowyer are also given starts. West Ham have Carlton Cole available after he came through a fitness test, but they are without suspended striker Frederic Piquionne after he was sent off at Everton for celebrating a late goal. Victor Obinna is also serving the last game of a ban."
1928: CARLING CUP POINT OF FACT Away goals only count tonight after extra-time. Jubbly.
puddleglumhammers on 606:
"Looks like a tightly packed 4 4 2 for the Hammers tonight. I fear that Boa Morte could be the weak link, yet again. Has to be a 1-1 draw."
1925: BREAKING NEWS Sky presenter Richard Keys has
resigned from his post
following his sexist comments about referee Sian Massey.
zarifrasul on Twitter:
"The King can finally field his heir apparent in the Premier League. LFC are due a big result, I'm going for 4-0."
1920: BIRMINGHAM v WEST HAM (agg 1-2) Birmingham: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Jiranek, Ridgewell, Larsson, Ferguson, Bowyer, Gardner, Derbyshire, Jerome. Subs: Taylor, Murphy, Phillips, Fahey, Zigic, Hleb, Beausejour. West Ham: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Bridge, Noble, Parker, Spector, Hines, Cole, Boa Morte. Subs: Boffin, Reid, Gabbidon, Dyer, McCarthy, Sears, O'Neil. Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)
RKW on 606:
"I still think Liverpool have a long way to go before they get out of the "rot", however tonight's a great chance to put back-to-back wins together. As for the League Cup semi-final, I still think Arsenal will be too good in the final for either team."
1917: In short, plenty to spark your interest I'll wager. So get involved good people, by Tweeting the commentary via the hashtag
or ask me a question direct
chat over on
or text me via 81111 (UK). It's your time to shine.
1915: And away from the chase for domestic silverware, meanwhile, tonight's other match brings us the small matter of
Liverpool v Fulham.
When this match was originally scheduled just before Christmas it was all about the possibility of Roy Hodgson enjoying
a rare supportive atmosphere at Anfield...
albeit from the away fans... but this time around there will be no doubting whose side the home crowd are on. 'King' Kenny Dalglish presides over what Reds fans are hoping is a rejuvenated Liverpool side against a Fulham side who, themselves, are enjoying something of a renaissance. Intrigue.
1914: Anyway, wherever you're keeping across tonight's Carling Cup festivities, it promises to be a bit of a barn-stormer. Now, I know I always say that, but when have I ever been wrong? Ever? Two sides
at the wrong end of the table,
two managers under pressure... you probably want something to take your mind of things, right? Something to lift the spirits and cheer the soul? Few things do that better than the promise of a Cup final trip to Wembley, do they...
1912: So, clearly, Mr Sullivan knows the best way to catch tonight's Carling Cup semi-final second-leg tie between Birmingham and West Ham is
not at St Andrew's
(heaven forbid... *cough*) but right here with me on this here BBC Commentary! Erm... right? Anyone? Ahem. Anyway, good to have you with us Mr Sullivan. You too
co-owner Gold and vice-chairman Brady.
You're in the best of company...
1910: "I don't want to offend anyone but I can't face doing that journey back if we lose. If it wasn't on TV, we would all be there 100%. But I've done that long journey six or seven hundred times and I can't face getting back at 2am feeling depressed. I'll be partying at home with my kids, like every West Ham fan, if we go through." West Ham United owner David Sullivan
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