Liverpool rediscover taste for silverware
Liverpool have been in some dark places since the last time they won a trophy in 2006 but their Carling Cup final victory over Championship side Cardiff City, nerve-wracking as it was, offers hope of better things to come under manager Kenny Dalglish.
Their 3-2 victory in a penalty shootout at Wembley after being held to a 2-2 draw by the Welsh side will hardly cause ripples at the Nou Camp, the Bernabeu, or even Old Trafford, but at least Liverpool are collecting trophies again.
The real proof of the pudding will be whether Dalglish, 14 months into a second spell as manager after a hugely successful first period ended in 1991, can restore the Anfield club to serious challengers for the league title they have not won since 1990.
They are seventh in the league, 24 points behind leaders Manchester City, but Dalglish believes the foundations are in place for Liverpool to challenge for bigger prizes.
"This is the first trophy we've won for six years," Dalglish, who returned to try to revive the club's fortunes last year afterRoy Hodgson was sacked, told reporters. "Now we will work even harder and see where that takes us.
"The idea six years ago wasn't to go six years without winning another cup but now we have the flavour of it again we want to come back and win more of them.
"We will go back to work after the internationals and see if we can kick on from here. I don't think anybody would win a trophy and come away from it and say, 'I didn't enjoy it and wouldn't want to win it again'.
"If you enjoy it you want more of it."
Since Liverpool beat West Ham United to win the FA Cup in 2006 they have endured a debilitating ownership battle, fallen out of their place among England's top four and endured the pain of watching arch-rivals Manchester United surpass their record of 18 English league titles.
"For them to walk away with a trophy in their first season, that's a great credit to them," said Dalglish, who won three league titles in his first stint as Liverpool manager. "This is the culmination of 14 months hard work.
"Although we won something today that's not us finished. This means an awful lot to a lot of people and this is what this football club stands for."
After Martin Skrtel cancelled out Joe Mason's opener for Cardiff, Dirk Kuyt's extra time goal looked to have spared Liverpool the stress of a penalty shootout only for Cardiff to level at the death through Ben Turner.
Kuyt, one of Liverpool's longest-serving players who had never won a trophy before with the club prior to Sunday, made a huge impact as a substitute, also preventing a Cardiff goal with a goalline clearance and converting one of Liverpool's three successful kicks in the shootout.
"We wanted this trophy so desperately," the Dutchman said.
"It was incredible, an incredible day. I was very disappointed not to play longer than 15 minutes but I have to put that aside. I'm so happy to have scored the goal.
"This is why I came to Anfield. To finally get my first medal at Wembley is great. Hopefully we can get one more later in the season."
Liverpool, who have now won the League Cup a record eight times, have also reached the FA Cup quarter-finals.
"We won't accept just this, we need more, we want more," added Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, who crowned his first visit to Wembley in a club shirt by lifting the trophy.