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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 May 2006, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
Alan Hansen's Cup final verdict

By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

Great players give you something extra - and boy did Steven Gerrard give Liverpool something extra

Liverpool won a truly great FA Cup final played in a great spirit - but without one man West Ham would have had the trophy in their dressing room and would have been celebrating.

This was one of the classic Cup finals and it is desperately unfortunate that they should lose on penalties.

West Ham were the better side and should have won, but Liverpool had Steven Gerrard and that is why a very good season is now a great one for Rafael Benitez's side.

What a man, what a player and what a captain.

Liverpool made some good signings at the start of the season, but there was one man who was the best when they got him to sign a new contract and his name was Steven Gerrard.

Great players give you something extra when you are down and out and dead and buried and boy did Gerrard give Liverpool something extra.

Liverpool were a beaten side when the ball bounced out to him in the 90th minute of normal time, but it was a quite magnificent strike that beat Shaka Hislop and sent the game into extra time.

Gerrard is a man who doesn't know when he's beaten and he just scored an unbelieveable goal.

He looked like he was struggling with something, whether it was cramp or an injury, just before the ball came to him, and then he produced a strike like that with time running out.

It's what great players do and Gerrard is a great player.

It is scant consolation for Alan Pardew and his West Ham side, but they were absolutely brilliant - players and manager.

They had giant performances from Danny Gabbidon, Dean Ashton and Nigel Reo-Coker, who I thought was absolutely magnificent.

And I say again, if it was not for Gerrard they would have won.

It's scant consolation, but West Ham's players and manager Alan Pardew were magnificent

Normal time was fantastic, but extra time was also fascinating because I've never seen so many players go down injured or with cramp.

And then we had the last-minute drama when Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina turned the ball on to the post and the ball fell to Marlon Harewood on his injured foot and he couldn't get it in - you couldn't have written the script.

Liverpool gave the ball away too much in the first half. Djibril Cisse's goal was vital for Benitez's side after West Ham went two up, and to be honest in the 31 minutes before he scored he had had a shocker.

There were individual errors for goals for Liverpool, but Ashton was outstanding in the first half and produced a quite magnificent pass that led to Jamie Carragher's own goal.

In the end, it would have been tough on either side to lose on penalties, but Reina made up for his mistake that led to Ashton's goal by saving three penalties.

Liverpool claimed the trophy, but as I said, West Ham were the better side and can be proud of their efforts.

But once again, it was that man Gerrard who pulled Liverpool up when they were down and led them to the FA Cup.



SEE ALSO
Liverpool 3-3 West Ham (aet)
13 May 06 |  FA Cup
FA Cup final photos
13 May 06 |  Photo Galleries
Player rater
21 Mar 06 |  World Cup 2006
Benitez grateful to win thriller
13 May 06 |  Liverpool
Cup loss hard to take for Pardew
13 May 06 |  West Ham Utd
Final recalls Cup's magic days
13 May 06 |  FA Cup


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