CARDIFF, Wales – Tom Heaton saved two penalties to help Cardiff reach its first League Cup final by beating Crystal Palace 3-1 in a shootout on Tuesday.
Cardiff dominated most of the game but only managed a 1-0 edge after 90 minutes to force extra time, after losing the first leg by the same score.
Palace was down to 10 men by then after captain Paddy McCarthy was dismissed for his second yellow card in the 78th, but Cardiff still couldn’t take advantage.
The Welsh club twice hit the bar in extra time, and then looked to be in trouble after Kenny Miller blasted his penalty well high to start the shootout.
But Heaton saved Palace’s first two efforts from Jermaine Easter and Sean Scannell, before Jonathan Parr put the decisive spot kick wide.
“It’s massive,” Heaton said. “It’s something you dream about as a boy.”
The second-tier side will play either Liverpool or Manchester City in the final. Liverpool leads the second semifinal 1-0 going into the second leg at home on Wednesday.
“We’ll look forward to the game but we’ll try to win the game. We won’t just be there for the day out.,” Heaton said. “There are two great teams in the other semifinal but I think we’ve got enough about us in this team with the players and the management that we can go and get a result.”
Cardiff took the lead in just the seventh minute as Anthony Gardner, who had scored for Crystal Palace in the opening leg, put the ball into his own net.
Darcy Blake played Don Cowie in down the right and Gardner could only turn his cross past a stranded goalkeeper Julian Speroni.
Speroni had plenty to do for the rest of the night, and beat away Peter Whittingham’s fierce angled drive in the 11th, with Anthony Gerrard narrowly failing to get to the loose ball.
Palace threatened little until Wilfried Zaha worked his way into the box, but Andrew Taylor got back to clear his attempted pass to Glenn Murray.
Cardiff remained the dominant force, and Miller should have doubled the lead after Parr’s woeful header gifted Aron Gunnarsson possession.
The midfielder played the Scotland striker in, but his left-footed shot rolled agonizingly wide of the right-hand post.
Miller came up short again as he hammered a volley against the post moments before the interval.
Palace had a rare attempt on goal after 52 minutes as Chris Martin turned well on the edge of the box after being found by Murray but fired over.
Whittingham then curled in a sublime free kick that Speroni had to tip over the bar.
Palace was reduced to 10 men with 12 minutes to go as McCarthy was handed a second booking following a challenge from behind on Miller.
With the extra man Cardiff dominated the entirety of the 30-minute extra time period, and came close to a winner when Filip Kiss whacked a volley against the bar from inside the box, and Gunnarsson also found the woodwork with his point-blank header from a corner.
Those misses looked like they might prove costly when Miller missed the first spot kick, but Heaton saved low down from Easter and Scannell, before Parr failed to find the target to spark a minor pitch invasion by the home supporters.