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Page last updated at 18:45 GMT, Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Tuesday football as it happened


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By Tom Rostance

2325: That's all from me for a long evening of cup action, join me back here tomorrow night when we will find out whether it's Cardiff v Manchester City or Cardiff v Liverpool in next month's Carling Cup final. Should be a good one - see you there.

2317: Incidentally, Cardiff are the first team from outside of the top flight to reach the League Cup final since Birmingham in 2001. Current Fulham striker Andy Johnson was the villain of that piece, missing the decisive penalty as Liverpool won on penalties.

Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman: "Obviously I'm disappointed with the outcome but the lads were tremendous, we've won a lot of hearts on the back of that performance. Cardiff are an outstanding team but we came at them. Football's not always about passing and movement, it's about hunger and desire. We showed some fantastic pace on the break. We fight for each other and on another night we'd have maybe taken one of our opportunities, but we deserved to take it to penalties. We've come a long way in such a short space of time. We've taken a lot from this and hopefully will move on quickly."

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Tony from Cowplain on text: "Liverpool or Man City? Either will do us - Bluebirds! So proud!"

2305: Cardiff are no strangers to Wembley way at the moment, they reached the FA Cup semi final and then final in 2008, and the Championship play-off final in 2010. Unfortunately they only won once from those three games, so they may be due one...

Hugo on Twitter: "Can't help but think I might suffer through another penalty shoot-out like that at Euro 2012."

2258: What a bizarre few years Craig Bellamy has had. From ripping it up in the Championship for Cardiff, to a key player for Liverpool four or five years after he first left Anfield. Very strange.

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Anonymous on text: "To play a Liverpool side led by Craig Bellamy would be a dream!! BLUEBIRDS!!! Full credit to a great Palace side though!"

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Andrew in Cardiff on text: "Has to be Liverpool in the final. Gerrard vs Gerrard and a chance to show Bellamy what he's missing."

2253: Tom Heaton is getting all the plaudits, a penalty shoot-out can turn out to be a dream for goalkeepers. I wonder if that defeat will make any difference to the future of Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha? He was a real pest for Palace, particularly in the first half, and has long been linked with a move into the Premier League. Now he has no Wembley final to look forward to, will he fancy a move?

Cardiff goalkeeper Tom Heaton: "It's a great night for Cardiff City. I was a spectator for much of the game and when I got involved it was great to play a part in getting us to Wembley."

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Tom, Crystal Palace fan from Brighton: "So proud to be a Palace fan tonight - credit to Cardiff for the number of chances they created, but we showed exactly how to play with 10 men. So much effort, endeavour and desire - and this from a penniless side expected to go down at the start of the season. But good luck to Cardiff in the final - keep flying the flag for the most entertaining league in the country."

Thomas Singleton on Twitter: "Thanks #bbcfootball for keeping me updated in NZ. Few strange looks from colleagues in office when I celebrated #cardiff win."

2247: So Cardiff fans, who would you rather play in the final? Liverpool or Manchester City?

Nick Selmes on Twitter: "Is that the worst display of penalty taking since England were last in a World Cup 1/4 final?"

Cardiff boss Malky Malkay: "We've been at this stage before in this competition and the guys who took the penalties had nerves of steel. Tom Heaton has been our cup keeper and with some of the blame given to him after the goal in the first leg, maybe there was a bit of justice tonight."

Wisdom United on Twitter: "Great football match. Both teams did their fans proud with those performances and showed that the Championship is a top league."

2239: Hard lines for all Palace fans out there, and congratulations to Cardiff. What did you think of that one? The right result? Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @TJRostance or text in via 81111 (UK).

Match of the Day pundit Lee Dixon: "If you were giving points for endeavour Crystal Palace deserve a lot of credit but ultimately Cardiff were the better team. They will give Liverpool or Manchester City a better game in the final, they're a good footballing side."

Alan Hansen
Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen: "Plaudits to Crystal Palace they battled well, but overall Cardiff were the better team and deserved to go through. Malky Mackay kept faith with goalkeeper Tom Heaton after making a mistake in the first leg but ultimately he is the hero."

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Cardiff and Wales defender Kevin Ratcliffe at Cardiff City Stadium for BBC Radio 5 live: "Welsh football is moving in the right direction. All we need is Newport to pick up and Wrexham to get promoted!"

2233: Tom Heaton made a name for himself there with a brace of saves, though to be honest Jermaine Easter and Sean Scannell's spot-kicks were both tame. Very much in the 'Southgate' bracket. At least Jonathan Parr put his foot through the ball. The 'Waddle' school of thought.

2230: So Cardiff will head to Wembley for next month's Carling Cup final where they will face Liverpool or Manchester City. Terrible way to lose for Palace, who hung on bravely throughout extra time with 10 men. But Cardiff hit the woodwork three times - including twice in the second period of extra time - so you have to say the right team won. Cardiff striker Kenny Miller is a lucky man though - his first spot-kick was a shocker.


Cardiff 3-1 Crystal Palace - Jonathan Parr shoots wide

Cardiff 3-1 Crystal Palace - Peter Whittingham scores

Cardiff 2-1 Crystal Palace - Mile Jedinak scores

Cardiff 2-0 Crystal Palace - Rudy Gestede scores

Cardiff 1-0 Crystal Palace - Sean Scannell saved by Tom Heaton

Cardiff 1-0 Crystal Palace - Craig Conway scores

Cardiff 0-0 Crystal Palace - Jermaine Easter saved by Tom Heaton

Cardiff 0-0 Crystal Palace - Kenny Miller blazes over

2226: Here we go...

2224: Goalkeepers Tom Heaton and Julian Speroni embrace as the penalties are to be taken in front of the Crystal Palace supporters. Great drama here.

2221: What a chance that was at the death. A free header from three yards out. Cardiff so unlucky but now we are set for penalties. It's a lottery now, time for heroes, etc, etc...

2221: FULL-TIME Cardiff 1-0 Crystal Palace (1-1 on aggregate) PENALTY SHOOT-OUT

Someone has struck the woodwork
2219: Aron Gunnarsson! The midfielder rises highest to thump a header against the crossbar from Craig Conway's corner. What a chance. A sitter. Got to score.

2216: Anthony Gardner - ball magnet. Peter Whittingham hits a shot on the stretch, it hits the knee of Gardner and flies a yard wide. Incredibly close to the winner. Gardner has been at the heart of everything in this tie.

2213: There are some extremely tired legs in the Crystal Palace midfield right now, they are hanging on for dear life. Five minutes remain.

Someone has struck the woodwork
2209: That could be the last chance. The aforementioned French/American man Rudy Gestede turns a cross back to Filip Kiss - who smashes a shot against the top of the crossbar from 15 yards. So close to the winner.

2208: It turns out Cardiff sub Rudy Gestede is French - but he wants to play for the United States as his grandfather is American. A canny move maybe. We have 10 minutes until penalties here and it's looking more and more likely...

2206: Dougie Freedman on the bench there is jotting down his penalty takers. Surely Anthony Gardner is first on the list?

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Cardiff and Wales defender Kevin Ratcliffe at Cardiff City Stadium for BBC Radio 5 live: "I thought you just changed ends at half-time in extra-time. I never had a team talk! Crystal Palace have been excellent, just excellent, in this added-on time. They've been very, very resilient."

2203: Dougie Freedman has taken his Palace players down to right in front of the away fans for his pep talk here. Shades of Phil Brown at Hull? Palace fans will hope not. Anyway, we are back in play for the last 15 minutes...

2203: HALF-TIME IN EXTRA TIME Cardiff 1-0 Crystal Palace (1-1 on aggregate)

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Anonymous on text: "Palace really are showing tremendous heart here. It has been one-way traffic since the dismissal of McCarthy, but Palace are still hanging in there. Cardiff are getting more and more frustrated as the minutes tick by, and as the time goes by, will Palace be dreaming of Wembley more?"

SPL UPDATE: Motherwell eased into third place in the Scottish Premier League despite playing 72 minutes with 10 men after Stephen Craigan's sending off. Henrik Ojamaa put Stuart McCall's side ahead before half-time and Nicky Law added a second shortly after the break. Andy Kirk gave the Pars some hope, but Chris Humphrey's late strike ensured that the visitors remain a point behind Hibernian at the foot of the table.

2158: Anthony Gerrard goes close to another own goal from a similar position to his first-half error but he toes a Kenny Miller cross into the ground and Filip Kiss heads the loose ball over the top. Cardiff turn to their wildcard as American targetman Rudy Gestede comes on. He's built like a linebacker.

BBC Two logo
Match of the Day summariser Martin Keown on BBC Two: "This is better from Cardiff now, they are really turning the screw. They just need to be patient. From a Cardiff point of view, to make the extra player work, they need to keep moving the ball from side to side but Crystal Palace are keeping their shape well."

2155: Not much credit to Howard Webb here though, as Jermaine Easter clatters Peter Whittingham with an ugly challenge but the referee shows no card. Whittingham has been impressive tonight.

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Adam from Leicester on text: "You always hear of clubs moaning about playing two games in 48 hours. Credit to Howard Webb and other referees that keep games possible by doing it without fuss."

2152: Here we go then, a good old fashioned scramble in the Palace penalty area. Kenny Miller is thwarted by a desperate block from Anthony Gardner, Cardiff substitute Filip Kiss shows good composure to backheel to Don Cowie but the winger blazes over. Big chance.

2150: Even start to the extra period, with Palace substitute Sean Scannell looking a threat on the break. Cardiff come forward through Craig Conway though and his cross is hacked clear.

Alan Hansen
Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen: "It's still all to play for. Crystal Palace have shown massive heart to be where they are in the tie. They have sat back well and defended well. The game was always going to be tight, but Palace can score from a set-play and they look more likely to score that way."

2147: Back under way in Cardiff for the first period of extra time. Let's have some goals...

Cardiff 1-0 Crystal Palace (1-1 on aggregate)
Bruce Pope's FT snapshot: "Palace have done well to hold out after losing captain Patrick McCarthy to a second yellow card but have a hard 30 minutes of extra time ahead of them. What odds a penalty shoot-out at the end of that though?"

FOOTBALL LEAGUE UPDATE: Goals everywhere apart from at Meadow Lane, where 4,900 witness Notts County and Preston play out the only 0-0 of the evening. Six goals between Stevenage and MK Dons, with Boro coming out 4-2 winners. Sheffield Wednesday move level on points with Sheffield United and Huddersfield in the hunt for League One automatic promotion with an away victory over Scunthorpe, while Torquay and AFC Wimbledon wrap up League Two home wins against Dagenham & Redbridge and Macclesfield respectively.

2142: So we are set for another 30 minutes in Cardiff, who have an extra man after Paddy McCarthy was dismissed for Crystal Palace. Big test for the Londoners now.

2142: FULL-TIME Cardiff 1-0 Crystal Palace (1-1 on aggregate) EXTRA TIME

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Cardiff and Wales defender Kevin Ratcliffe at Cardiff City Stadium for BBC Radio 5 live: "If this goes into extra time I think Cardiff will win the game. They've got the extra man and they'll work it, and maybe a mistake will cost one of the sides."

Sam McVeigh on Twitter: "The longer this game goes on the longer I don't have to work. Extra time and penalties would do nicely."

2138: We are into stoppage time. And there will be four minutes of it...

2136: But that is a chance for Cardiff. A deep cross from the left finds its way through to Don Cowie at the back stick, the Scot lines up a half volley but Wilfried Zaha makes a fine recovery challenge to get a block in. Terrific workrate from the youngster. Craig Conway then shoots wide from range.

2135: Palace have thrown on former Swansea man Jermaine Easter up top now as they look to hang on for a few extra minutes. Cardiff have yet to make their extra man count...

2132: Kenny Miller drags a shot wide after running onto a peach of a through-ball but he is flagged offside. We are into the last five minutes here and it is tight. Can anyone find a winner?

BBC Two logo
2129: Match of the Day summariser Martin Keown on BBC Two: "Howard Webb was very quick to make that decision, he was a long way from the incident. Paddy McCarthy has gone through the back of Kenny Miller, though, just stay on your feet and be patient. It's a bold move by Crystal Palace to take Darren Ambrose off. He is their quality from set-pieces."

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Cardiff and Wales defender Kevin Ratcliffe at Cardiff City Stadium for BBC Radio 5 live: "I wonder now how Cardiff will adapt to Palace's sending off. Will they sacrifice someone and bring on a striker?"

Red card
Crystal Palace sending off: With 13 minutes left, is this the turning point? Crystal Palace captain Paddy McCarthy is already on a yellow card and slams into the back of Kenny Miller to earn a second booking. It was a rash challenge and Howard Webb was probably within his rights there. Dougie Freedman makes the bold step of sacrificing Darren Ambrose as Paul McShane comes on at the back.

Red card for Crystal Palace (Patrick McCarthy)

2123: Palace bring on Sean Scannell and the youngster has an immediate impact as he ghosts away from two challenges in the middle of the park before feeding Wilfried Zaha on the left. Zaha is closed down and slashes his effort wide. Poor strike, but a big chance.

2121: Cardiff well on top but when a set-piece is not cleared, Antony Gerrard produces a real centre-half's effort as he fires way over the top from 20 yards. Not quite Row Z, but comfortably Row L.

2118: Aron Gunnarsson bombs in a long throw from the left, it's flicked on at the near post and Kenny Miller flicks an effort over the top from the narrowest of angles. Cardiff certainly look the most likely to find a way through at the moment.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE UPDATE: The game has come alive at the Cherry Red Records Stadium in League Two. A Dwayne Mattis strike gives Macclesfield the lead on 58 minutes only for Billy Knott to fire AFC Wimbledon back to parity on the hour. Sheffield Wednesday now lead 3-1 away at Scunthorpe while two Stevenage goals in three second-half minutes has them 3-1 ahead against MK Dons.

SPL LATEST: Dunfermline looked down and out after Nicky Law powered 10-man Motherwell into a 2-0 lead with an 18-yard drive after 52 minutes at Fir Park. But Andy Kirk's fine volley 10 minutes later has given the SPL's bottom side new heart.

2116: Peter 'the machine' Whittingham takes aim from range again and whistles a shot just wide from 30 yards. At 1-1 on aggregate with 20 minutes left we are entering 'next goal wins' territory here. Who wants a day at Wembley more?

2115: Match of the Day summariser Martin Keown on BBC Two: "Cardiff's Peter Whittingham is like a machine. He's a lot better player under Malky Mackay and in the middle, you can certainly see the quality in him."

Ryan Heatly on Twitter: "Cardiff just want this more than Palace. Kenny Miller to notch the second."

2111: Chris Martin is not short of confidence is he? The Palace forward takes aim from 35-40 yards with Wembley in his sights - but the effort is poor and is shanked wide of the target. His team-mates aren't too happy after that one.

2107: Another Peter Whittingham free-kick, another Cardiff chance. Whittingham hits a straight ball forward which Anthony Gerrard meets before Julian Speroni, but his header is hacked clear by Paddy McCarthy. Cardiff now piling on the pressure.

2106: Match of the Day summariser Martin Keown on BBC Two: "This is Crystal Palace's best period in the game and if they are to get through they need to score in this spell. The full-backs for Palace are doing much better in the second half, getting much tighter."

2104: Cardiff win a free-kick 30 yards from goal when Paddy McCarthy fouls Kenny Miller. Up steps that man Peter Whittingham to hit a peach of a drive, which is heading right for the top corner until Julian Speroni turns it over the top. Fantastic effort.

SPL LATEST: Dunfermline have it all to do if they are going to claim the three points to lift themselves off the bottom of the Scottish Premier League. Needing a win, they were presented with a great chance when Motherwell captain Stephen Craigan was sent off after only 18 minutes. But Estonia striker Henrik Ojamaa marked his first start for the home side by firing Motherwell into the lead 11 minutes later. The Pars have had a couple of penalty claims but failed to create clear-cut chances despite the extra man advantage.

2101: Palace have started this half very well, and Chris Martin again threatens. Glenn Murray wins a header to find his strike partner, but after deftly turning away from a challenge the on-loan Norwich man fires over the bar with his left foot.

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Cardiff and Wales defender Kevin Ratcliffe at Cardiff City Stadium for BBC Radio 5 live: "This game could hinge on a couple of substitutions. Those players should be fresher, particularly if this goes into extra time."

2057: Cardiff come back on the attack as Peter Whittingham flashes a shot wide from 25 yards. The atmosphere is notably tense now in Cardiff.

2056: Former Crystal Palace defender and Wales boss Chris Coleman: "I want to see Cardiff win the game. Wales football is on the up. If Cardiff keep the tempo up then maybe they'll just squeeze through. The Cardiff full-backs have done well against Wilfried Zaha and they have to keep their eye on him. I've spoken with 90-95% of the [Wales] players, as a quick courtesy call. I haven't had chance to speak to all my staff yet. I met Osian Roberts for a coffee today and Raymond Verheijen is away but I will speak to him next week."

2054: Good start for Crystal Palace as Nathaniel Clyne breaks clear down the right and his low cross is flicked toward goal by Chris Martin - but it hits a defender and goes wide. Paddy McCarthy has a free header from the following corner but can't keep it down.

2052: There are no changes for either side as we get back under way in Cardiff.

2050: Match of the Day pundit Lee Dixon: "It could have been disastrous for Crystal Palace after that start, and Cardiff were putting them under pressure, but they got back into it and Wilfried Zaha has caused them some problems down the left."

Half time
Cardiff 1-0 Crystal Palace (1-1 on aggregate)
Bruce Pope's HT snapshot: "Cardiff are desperately unlucky not to have taken the lead in the tie after a first half full of attacking intent that garnered just that early Anthony Gardner own-goal, although Wilfried Zaha's pace continues to threaten a goal on the counter for under pressure Palace."

Alan Hansen
2048: Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen: "It has been a very good game. I thought Cardiff were the better of the sides. They didn't create that many chances but they were right on top. And with the two chances Kenny Miller had at the end, it could have been all over but it is wide open."

FOOTBALL LEAGUE UPDATE: It's half-time in all the games and Sheffield Wednesday are now two goals to the good away at Scunthorpe, strengthening their play-off credentials while keeping the Iron rooted near the foot of the table. Stevenage have equalised at home to MK Dons. In League Two Torquay are leading against lowly Dagenham & Redbridge thanks to a Lee Mansell strike. It remains goalless in the Notts County v Preston and AFC Wimbledon v Macclesfield fixtures.

2040: So with 45 minutes to go it's all square here, and we could be heading for extra-time. Nobody wants to go through that - do they?

BBC Radio 5 live
Former Cardiff and Wales defender Kevin Ratcliffe at Cardiff City Stadium for BBC Radio 5 live: "It was all Cardiff for the first 20 minutes. Palace have got themselves back into the game and have given themselves a little bit of confidence. They've weathered the storm, but Cardiff really should be a couple of goals ahead. They've dominated the first half."

2037: HALF-TIME Cardiff 1-0 Crystal Palace (1-1 on aggregate)

Someone has struck the woodwork
2035: What was that about slowing down? Kenny Miller strikes the woodwork for Cardiff. Again Craig Conway provides the ammo with a run down the left, the ball is half cleared and Miller cracks in a rising drive from the edge of the box which thumps against the post. So close to taking the overall lead.

2035: The game has finally slowed down as we reach stoppage time.

2030: Referee Howard Webb is in the thick of it here as again Wilfried Zaha hits the deck under a challenge from Anthony Gerrard. This time Webb waves play on but it looks a clear foul to me. The home fans are jeering Zaha now.

2029: Match of the Day summariser Martin Keown on BBC Two: "Wilfried Zaha is a real box of tricks isn't he? He's a great spectacle to watch and Cardiff are needing to double up on him when the Palace player attacks."

2027: Massive chance for Cardiff. They break clear from a Palace free-kick, Aron Gunnarsson releases Kenny Miller who is just onside and the Scotland international clips the ball past Julian Speroni - but just wide of the far post. A yard away from putting Cardiff ahead.

Yellow card
2025: Marvellous turn from Wilfried Zaha on the halfway line and the forward bursts away down the left. However he can't find a team-mate and the move stops. Zaha gets the ball again and jinks past Darcy Blake - who is booked for bringing him down. That could prove crucial.

2022: Trickster-in-chief Wilfried Zaha wins a free-kick for Palace on a rare break down the left and Darren Ambrose fires in a dangerous cross which Cardiff keeper Tom Heaton punches away. Cardiff get away with one though as replays show Aron Gunnarsson tugging Chris Martin's shirt in the box. Let-off for the hosts.

George Copley on Twitter: "Can't decide what was a better finish... Gardner's goal in the first leg or Gardner's own goal in the second leg?"

2016: Cardiff left-back Andrew Taylor whips in a fine cross which Aron Gunnarsson heads wide as the camera pans out to show new Wales manager Chris Coleman sat next to Team GB boss Stuart Pearce. No doubt discussing the availability of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey for the Olympics. Shoe-ins those two, surely?

2012: Peter Whittingham lines it up, and he scored one from here against Palace in the league in November. But this one's a poor effort, hitting the wall halfway up. The home side will be very happy with this opening 25 minutes.

2011: Cardiff are taking control at the minute, with Aron Gunnarsson imposing himself in midfield. He wins a free-kick in a dangerous spot...

2009: It's still end-to-end stuff here, and the pace of the game appears to have broken our website - the auto refresh is having a torrid evening so it's F5 all the way for the time being if you don't mind.

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Anonymous on text: "Martin Keown is a bit harsh saying Speroni should have comunicated better! It was a great ball in, maybe old centre half habits die hard!"

FOOTBALL LEAGUE UPDATE: A couple of very early goals light things up in League One - it takes just 42 seconds for Chris O'Grady to collect the ball from Miguel Angel Llera and fire Sheffield Wednesday into the lead at Scunthorpe. It's advantage MK Dons in the battle of the play-off contenders as James O'Shea converts from close range against Stevenage. No goals yet in the three other Football League fixtures.

2003: You wonder if these teams can keep up this tempo throughout the 90 minutes as we haven't had chance to take a breath yet. You could call it a right old ding-dong. Palace are looking to get Wilfried Zaha on the ball at every opportunity.

2002: Match of the Day summariser Martin Keown on BBC Two: "Anthony Gardner is the fall guy, but it was a really whipped-in ball. Maybe the goalkeeper Julian Speroni should have communicated a bit better at the near post. A fantastic start, just what you wanted if you're a Cardiff player. You wonder if Crystal Palace will now make some adjustments."

1959: This is an end-to-end game at the minute, with Cardiff going close to a second as Peter Whittingham cuts inside onto his left foot and hammers in a 20-yard drive which is turned away by Julian Speroni. Plenty of threat so far.

1957: Poor Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni really had no chance with that one, but Palace respond well and it's dangerman Wilfried Zaha who wriggles into the box and puts in a dangerous ball which Cardiff manage to get clear.

Cardiff goal: The home side make an early breakthrough - and it's a moment to forget for Palace centre-half Anthony Gardner. The defender scored in the first leg and now levels the tie on aggregate. Craig Conway gets free in the right channel and bullets a cross across the face of goal where Gardner thumps a header into the net from three yards out. Unstoppable.

1955: GOALFLASH Cardiff 1-0 Crystal Palace (1-1 on aggregate) - Anthony Gardner own goal

1952: Penalty shout for Cardiff - and it's a bad dive from Craig Conway. He jinks inbetween Anthony Gardner and Jonathan Parr but just throws himself to the deck, and really Howard Webb should have had the yellow card out there.

1949: Bright start from the hosts as they spray the ball out wide, but the cross is to strong for Kenny Miller. The Bluebirds then unleash another weapon - Aron Gunnarsson's huge throw-ins - but Anthony Gerrard can't do much with his header and Palace survive.

1948: And we are off - better late than never.

1947: Match of the Day summariser Martin Keown on BBC Two: "The atmosphere here is fantastic, the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up. I'm not sure if one goal is going to be a enough for Crystal Palace. Cardiff played some beautiful football in the first leg, but can they reproduce when the pressure is on?"

BBC Radio 5 live
1945: Former Cardiff and Wales defender Kevin Ratcliffe at Cardiff City Stadium for BBC Radio 5 live: "Tonight it's too close to call. You can see this game going into extra time. I'd put my money on that."

1943: Looks like Dougie Freedman is retracting his 'bottle' chat then. Disappointing. There's a man whose botle I wouldn't question, Joe Calzaghe, no doubt who he will be supporting tonight. Here we are then, the teams are out on the pitch and 90 minutes away from one of the biggest games of their lives. Here we go...

1942: Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman: "It's going to be a huge challenge for us but we've got our noses in front after the result at Selhurst Park. We're fully fit, we're strong, we're focused and we're prepared. Malky's picked up some news report or put some words into my mouth. If I can do his team-talks for him then brilliant. If we're focused on what we have to do then we can win this game."

1941: Match of the Day pundit Steve Claridge: "It's difficult to call because of the way the game is poised. I'm interested to see how Palace approach the game. Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman might force them to be more positive because they would naturally want to defend what they have. Cardiff will have chances because of the way they pass the ball around."

1940: Some of you may have been having a few issues with our video streaming there, hit refresh now and all should be fixed - apologies for that.

1939: Cardiff boss Malky Mackay: "We had a good result on Saturday and we cannot wait for the game to start. The crowd were great on Saturday and they have responded to the amount of effort the players have put in this season."

Bruce Pope reports: "Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman has piled the pressure on Cardiff, saying: "Their fans expect to succeed, they are a passionate crowd and one that has nearly got there. They have always been a nearly team." That brought a rebuke from Cardiff manager Malky Mackay: "As far as his comments are concerned I look after my own club, but we are going back to our stadium and it will be a full house and rocking. The fans have been through it before but they see a team playing with passion and they embrace that."

Alan Hansen
1937: Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen: "It's to the credit of both teams, that they have come through troubled times. It's a massive incentive getting to the final, a truly mouth-watering prospect for the players and supporters, and the effect that has around the club and in training is immeasurable."

BBC Radio 5 live
1935: Here's more of that 5 live interview with Mario Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola: "He [Mario] is very disappointed about the decision. He loves playing in England. He keeps asking why always me? Why does it always come back to me? He loves playing in England and I think he feels persecuted."

SPL PREVIEW: North of the border, Dunfermline Athletic visit Motherwell's Fir Park hoping for a win that would take them above Hibernian at the bottom of the Scottish Premier League. Jim McIntyre's side arrive in renewed heart having ended a run of 10 games without a win by recording a surprise 3-0 result at Kilmarnock on Saturday. Stuart McCall's hosts have failed to pick up three points at home since September but have their own incentive for victory - returning to third spot above Hearts and St Johnstone.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE PREVIEW: In League Two, Dagenham & Redbridge can pull clear of the relegation zone if they beat Torquay at Plainmoor, while AFC Wimbledon v Macclesfield is just the sort of mid-table battle suited for a Tuesday night in January.

1930: Strong stuff from Mino Raiola then. Hit refresh now and you can watch our live coverage from Cardiff at the top of the screen.

BBC Radio 5 live
1926: Here's a snippet of the 5 live interview with Mario Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola: "I imagine there was a lot of pressure from Harry Redknapp. Maybe it was because Mario Balotelli didn't want to go there three years ago to Tottenham. He didn't do anything on purpose and maybe he was pushed. I talked to him yesterday, he was very disappointed about the decision to be banned for four games. He said to me he was liking England and, apart from fans of Manchester United who don't like him and he can understand that, he thinks other fans respect him."

FOOTBALL LEAGUE PREVIEW: In League One, managerless Stevenage, who many expect to announce their new boss in the next 48 hours, take on fellow play-off place contenders MK Dons at Broadhall Way. Boro's former boss, Graham Westley, is on the hunt for his first points as Preston manager as his side visit Notts County. Third-placed Sheffield Wednesday look to arrest a run of two games without a win as they travel to Scunthorpe.

1925: It's not all about the Carling Cup tonight - we have five games in the lower leagues and here's what you can expect...

Bruce Pope reports: "Crystal Palace run out at the Cardiff City Stadium aiming to reach a major final for the first time in more than 20 years. In contrast Cardiff are seeking a third major final appearance in five seasons, with either Manchester City or Liverpool the victors' Carling Cup final opponents."

1916: So the teams are in, and it could be another busy evening for Howard Webb - who was the referee who missed Mario Balotelli's alleged stamp on Scott Parker on Sunday. Let's have none of that tonight lads, keep it clean. I'm predicting a long-range cracker tonight, with Peter Whittingham and Darren Ambrose capable of smashing in from 30 yards. Just ask Manchester United...

Cardiff v Crystal Palace
Cardiff: Heaton, Blake, Gerrard, Turner, Taylor, Cowie, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, McPhail, Conway, Miller. Subs: Marshall, McNaughton, Kiss, Earnshaw, Gestede, Mason, Ralls.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Parr, McCarthy, Gardner, Clyne, Ambrose, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Zaha, Murray, Martin. Subs: Price, Wright, Garvan, Scannell, Easter, McShane, Andrew.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Andrew in Cardiff on text, via 81111: "It's been almost a year since we went to our second footballing home so I think a Wembley visit is due."

1914: Tonight's game - as if you didn't know - is live on BBC Two and also on this here website. If that wasn't enough of a boost to your morale, you can see what former Arsenal full-back Lee Dixon makes of the semi-finals in this video. Dixon won the League Cup in 1993, so he knows his onions. "Being 1-0 up keeps you on your toes," Dixon says. "It's not a big gap to bridge." That is otherwise known as sitting on the fence...

1911: Cardiff manager Malky Mackay is too cool - and too big - to be drawn into a war of words with Dougie Freedman though. "Needless to say, part of the team talk is done," was the best he could muster. The spoilsport. Where's Paolo Di Canio when you need him?

Paul Tanner on Twitter: "As a Utd fan its hurts to say it but Balotelli reminds me of Cantona, brilliance and a raving loon all rolled into one."

1907: In true Jose Mourinho style, Palace boss Dougie Freedman has done his best to stoke this one up by questioning Cardiff's 'bottle' in a newspaper column. "[Cardiff] know only too well what it is like to fall at the last hurdle. I've seen Cardiff fall just short so many times over the past few seasons," he said. "When you have their recent history of being beaten in the play-offs so often, they must have some very unhappy memories." Oooohhhh.

James Dawson on Twitter: "Cardiff playing European football isn't that big a deal, they play against opposition from another country on a weekly basis."

1904: Of course, the winner of tonight's tie will face either Liverpool or Manchester City in the final. The two Premier League giants face off at Anfield in 24 hours' time and I'm positive that Messrs Mancini and Dalglish will be tuning in tonight to see who their potential opponents will be. Definitely.

Former Crystal Palace midfielder Geoff Thomas on Twitter: "Good luck to the Palace boys tonight. Wembley 90mins away. #cpfc"

1900: And if you hit refresh now you can listen to 5 live by clicking on the link on the right.

1859: So who do we think will be taking on the big boys at Wembley after this one then? Can Crystal Palace come away with the result? Or will Kenny Miller and co prove strong enough to win through? Is Mario Balotelli your favourite modern footballer? Or is he just a loose cannon? Let me know. You can Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @TJRostance or text in via 81111 (UK).

1856: It wouldn't be a BBC text commentary without mentioning Mario Balotelli somewhere - and the enigmatic Italian is in the news again. His agent says the striker may leave Manchester City and he feels persecuted. You can hear the interview on radio 5 live at 1910 - and hold tight because I'll post a link at the top of this page shortly...

1853: If only it was that simple for Cardiff. Crystal Palace are only six points off the play-off places themselves, and are totally rejuvenated under Dougie Freedman. Let's not forget that the club were facing extinction less than two years ago. "I've got players here who could hardly go through any worse times," he said. "They're enjoying something now they maybe thought they never would in their careers."

1850: It's Dougie Freedman's visitors from England who hold the smallest of upper hands, after they won the first leg 1-0 at Selhurst Park a fortnight ago. Cardiff fans shouldn't be too daunted by that though - Malky Mackay's men boast a formidable home record so far this season and lie third in the Championship table. They've also won their last 10 home League Cup games in a row. Nailed on to progress then?

1845: Just 90 minutes from Wembley. Maybe 120 minutes. If we have a mammoth penalty shoot-out, two-and-a-half hours. Whichever way we look at it, by the end of the evening either Cardiff City or Crystal Palace will have booked their place in next month's Carling Cup final. Palace in Europe? It could just happen...

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League Cup results

24 Jan 2012 23:59 UK

League One table snapshot

As it stood on 24 Jan 2012 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Charlton 26 32 60
2 Huddersfield 27 28 53
3 Sheffield Utd 27 24 53
4 Sheffield Wed 27 15 53
5 MK Dons 26 21 47
6 Stevenage 27 18 45
7 Carlisle 26 2 42
8 Bournemouth 27 1 40
9 Brentford 27 0 37
10 Bury 26 -6 37
11 Preston 27 -6 36
12 Leyton Orient 27 -8 35
13 Notts County 27 2 34
14 Hartlepool 27 -4 34
15 Colchester 26 -5 33
16 Oldham 26 -5 32
17 Tranmere 27 -5 31
18 Exeter 27 -15 27
19 Walsall 27 -7 25
20 Scunthorpe 27 -9 25
21 Yeovil 27 -15 24
22 Wycombe 27 -16 23
23 Rochdale 27 -25 21
24 Chesterfield 27 -17 20

see also
Tuesday's football photos
24 Jan 12 |  Football

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