Cardiff City keeper Tom Heaton proved the penalty shoot-out hero to inspire the Bluebirds to the Carling Cup final.

Heaton saved Crystal Palace's first two penalties from Jermaine Easter and Sean Scannell to book the home team's fourth trip to Wembley in as many years.

Cardiff trailed 1-0 from the first leg but Palace's Anthony Gardner headed into his own net to level the tie.

The home team then dominated but failed to turn it into goals, even when Eagles captain Patrick McCarthy was sent off.

Cardiff City's Wembley run

  • 2008 FA Cup semi-final: Barnsley 0-1 Cardiff
  • 2008 FA Cup final: Cardiff 0-1 Portsmouth
  • 2010 Play-off final: Blackpool 3-2 Cardiff
  • 2012 Carling Cup final: Cardiff v Man City/Liverpool

Palace defended bravely after McCarthy's dismissal for a second yellow card on 78 minutes, holding firm during extra time.

But, having been denied by the woodwork three times, Cardiff held their nerve in the penalty shoot-out to reach their first League Cup final and book a Wembley meeting with either Liverpool or Manchester City on 26 February.

They got off to a bad start in the shoot-out when Cardiff top scorer Kenny Miller blazed his side's first kick over.

But Heaton, Cardiff's second-choice keeper who has been preferred to David Marshall throughout their Carling Cup run, turned the tide back in the home side's favour.

LAST FIVE SECOND-TIER TEAMS IN LEAGUE CUP FINAL

2001: Birmingham lost 5-4 on penalties to Liverpool

2000: Tranmere lost 2-1 to Leicester

1998: Middlesbrough lost 2-0 after extra-time to Chelsea

1995: Bolton lost 2-1 to Liverpool

1991: Sheffield Wednesday beat Manchester United 1-0

He brilliantly saved from Easter and then read Scannell's effort too, after Craig Conway had slotted Cardiff's second spot-kick.

Rudy Gestede and Peter Whittingham put Cardiff 3-1 ahead, either side of Mile Jedinak firing into Heaton's bottom right corner to get Palace going.

But Jonathan Parr's nerve failed him, as he too missed the target to ensure that a tense all-Championship semi-final between Malky Mackay's third-placed Cardiff and Dougie Freedman's 14th-placed Palace went to form.

Having started with attacking intent, Cardiff levelled the tie after just seven minutes.

Mackay delighted with Cardiff display

Darcy Blake played the ball into the right channel for the onrushing Don Cowie, the Scottish midfielder wrapped his foot around the ball to send in a dangerous cross and Gardner, Palace's goal hero from the first leg, instinctively lunged at the ball but headed into his own net.

Palace keeper Julian Speroni then beat away a fierce shot from Whittingham, before Aron Gunnarsson ballooned a header over and Miller slid just wide before going even closer in time added on at the end of the first half, controlling with his back to goal at the edge of the area before spinning in one fluid movement to crash a left-foot shot against the post.

Palace came out hard after the break but it was the same story, Whittingham again firing wide before bringing the best out of Speroni, who tipped over his free-kick.

PENALTY SHOOT-OUT

0-0: Cardiff's Miller fires over

0-0: Palace's Easter's shot saved

1-0: Cardiff's Conway scores

1-0: Palace's Scannell's shot saved

2-0: Cardiff's Gestede scores

2-1: Palace's Jedinak scores

3-1: Cardiff's Whittingham scores

3-1: Palace's Parr shoots over

McCarthy then came to the Eagles' rescue moments later, clearing off the line when Anthony Gerrard peeled away to head a free-kick past Speroni.

But the Palace skipper was to get his marching orders 12 minutes from the end of normal time when he scythed through the back of Miller, his second yellow card, having already been booked for an earlier foul on the same player.

Cowie had a late chance to win it in normal time before being sacrificed when Mackay opted to take advantage of the extra man.

He brought on another attacker in Gestede, who laid the ball off perfectly in the second period of extra time for Filip Kiss, only for the Slovakian midfielder to clip the top of the bar with his rising shot.

Freedman lauds Palace desire

Then came the best chance to avoid going to penalties when Gunnarsson lost his marker but, from four yards out, he somehow contrived to head against the bar with the net gaping.

Heaton had the final word, however, to ensure that Cardiff would not regret all their missed chances, allowing the Welsh side to go through to contest their third major Wembley final in five years.

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (6)

Cardiff

  • 22 Heaton
  • 03 Taylor
  • 06 Gerrard
  • 25 Turner
  • 07 Whittingham
  • 08 Cowie (Gestede - 102' )
  • 11 Conway
  • 17 Gunnarsson Booked
  • 23 Blake Booked (McNaughton - 80' )
  • 37 McPhail (Kiss - 83' )
  • 09 Miller

Substitutes

  • 01 Marshall
  • 02 McNaughton
  • 04 Kiss
  • 52 Ralls
  • 10 Earnshaw
  • 15 Gestede
  • 20 Mason

Crystal Palace

  • 01 Speroni
  • 02 Clyne Booked
  • 05 McCarthy Dismissed after an earlier booking
  • 06 Gardner
  • 04 Parr
  • 07 Ambrose (McShane - 79' )
  • 08 Dikgacoi
  • 15 Jedinak
  • 16 Zaha
  • 17 Murray (Easter - 83' )
  • 35 C Martin (Scannell - 75' )

Substitutes

  • 34 Price
  • 03 Wright
  • 30 McShane
  • 10 Garvan
  • 11 Scannell
  • 19 Easter
  • 31 Andrew
Ref: H Webb
Att: 25,652

Match Stats

Shots

27 5

On target

11 0

Corners

9 3

Fouls

12 17

Live Text Commentary

123:26

Penalty missed by Jonathan Parr.

123:00 Penalty

Peter Whittingham scores a penalty. Cardiff 3-1 Crystal Palace on penalties.

122:36 Penalty

Penalty scored by Mile Jedinak. Cardiff 2-1 Crystal Palace on penalties.

122:06 Penalty

Rudy Gestede scores a penalty. Cardiff 2-0 Crystal Palace on penalties.

121:30

Penalty taken by Sean Scannell saved by Tom Heaton.

121:06 Penalty

Craig Conway scores a penalty. Cardiff 1-0 Crystal Palace on penalties.

120:45

Penalty taken by Jermaine Easter is saved by Tom Heaton.

120:09

Penalty missed by Kenny Miller.

120:01

The referee calls the first player forward to start the penalty shoot-out.

120:00 +1:24

The match is going to penalties.

120:00 +0:42

Andrew Taylor produces a cross, Sean Scannell gets a block in. Corner taken right-footed by Craig Conway to the near post, clearance made by Jonathan Parr.

119:37

Headed effort from inside the area by Aron Gunnarsson misses to the right of the target.

118:54

The ball is swung over by Andrew Taylor, blocked by Sean Scannell. Corner taken by Craig Conway played to the near post, Aron Gunnarsson takes a shot.

118:31

The official flags Jermaine Easter offside. Indirect free kick taken by Tom Heaton.

118:15

Free kick awarded for a foul by Kevin McNaughton on Wilfried Zaha. Jonathan Parr takes the free kick.

116:52

Peter Whittingham takes a shot. Blocked by Paul McShane. Inswinging corner taken by Filip Kiss from the left by-line, Nathaniel Clyne manages to make a clearance.

116:38

The ball is crossed by Craig Conway.

115:54

The ball is swung over by Craig Conway, save by Julian Speroni.

115:32

The ball is delivered by Kevin McNaughton, Filip Kiss takes a shot. Anthony Gardner gets a block in.

114:14

The ball is delivered by Craig Conway, Rudy Gestede takes a shot. Save by Julian Speroni.

113:29

A cross is delivered by Craig Conway, clearance by Anthony Gardner.

112:25

The ball is swung over by Kevin McNaughton.

109:32

The ball is sent over by Aron Gunnarsson, Filip Kiss takes a shot.

108:47

Wilfried Zaha is ruled offside. Tom Heaton takes the free kick.

108:26

Direct free kick taken by Mile Jedinak.

108:26 Booking

Booking Aron Gunnarsson receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.

108:18

Free kick awarded for a foul by Aron Gunnarsson on Wilfried Zaha.

107:03

Kevin McNaughton challenges Wilfried Zaha unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Mile Jedinak.

105:50

Craig Conway takes a corner.

105:19

Wilfried Zaha concedes a free kick for a foul on Kevin McNaughton. Kevin McNaughton restarts play with the free kick.

105:01

The game restarts for the second half of extra time.

104:30

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Sean Scannell from the left by-line, Ben Turner makes a clearance.

102:49

Rudy Gestede takes a shot. Save by Julian Speroni.

101:32

Peter Whittingham takes the inswinging corner, Jonathan Parr makes a clearance.

101:32 Substitution

Substitution Rudy Gestede replaces Don Cowie.

101:32

A cross is delivered by Aron Gunnarsson, Wilfried Zaha gets a block in.

100:24

Centre by Kenny Miller, Filip Kiss produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.

99:38

Don Cowie crosses the ball.

98:41

Foul by Jermaine Easter on Peter Whittingham, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Anthony Gerrard.

96:36

Andrew Taylor sends in a cross, save by Julian Speroni.

96:31

Centre by Kevin McNaughton, clearance by Anthony Gardner.

96:20

Centre by Craig Conway.

94:52

Centre by Andrew Taylor, Shot on goal by Don Cowie from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.

93:52

Craig Conway produces a cross, clearance by Nathaniel Clyne.

92:07

Craig Conway sends in a cross, comfortable save by Julian Speroni.

90:38

Wilfried Zaha crosses the ball, clearance by Andrew Taylor.

90:21

The ball is delivered by Peter Whittingham, Anthony Gardner makes a clearance.

90:00 +4:37

The match has reached the end of normal time.

90:00 +3:15

A cross is delivered by Wilfried Zaha.

90:00 +2:16

The ball is sent over by Andrew Taylor.

90:00 +1:37

The ball is delivered by Craig Conway, clearance made by Anthony Gardner.

90:00 +1:20

The ball is delivered by Jonathan Parr, clearance made by Anthony Gerrard.

90:00 +0:34

Centre by Andrew Taylor, save by Julian Speroni.

89:52

Craig Conway produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the goal.

89:39

Craig Conway takes a shot. Blocked by Paul McShane.

88:32

Don Cowie takes a shot. Wilfried Zaha gets a block in. Short corner taken by Don Cowie from the right by-line.

88:23

Centre by Andrew Taylor.

87:11

Sean Scannell fouled by Filip Kiss, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Paul McShane.

86:50

The ball is sent over by Kevin McNaughton.

85:28

The ball is sent over by Don Cowie, clearance by Anthony Gardner.

84:16

The referee blows for offside against Kenny Miller. Julian Speroni restarts play with the free kick.

82:35 Substitution

Substitution Filip Kiss joins the action as a substitute, replacing Stephen McPhail.

82:35 Substitution

Substitution Jermaine Easter joins the action as a substitute, replacing Glenn Murray.

80:43

Andrew Taylor produces a cross, Header from close in by Ben Turner misses to the right of the target.

80:34

The ball is sent over by Aron Gunnarsson, Kagisho Dikgacoi makes a clearance.

79:51 Substitution

Substitution (Cardiff) makes a substitution, with Kevin McNaughton coming on for Darcy Blake.

79:25

Craig Conway delivers the ball, clearance by Mile Jedinak.

77:21

Peter Whittingham restarts play with the free kick.

77:21 Substitution

Substitution Paul McShane is brought on as a substitute for Darren Ambrose.

77:21 Dismissal

Dismissal Patrick McCarthy is sent off by the referee for second bookable offence.

77:04

Unfair challenge on Kenny Miller by Patrick McCarthy results in a free kick.

75:27

Wilfried Zaha has an effort at goal from close in which goes wide left of the target.

74:33 Substitution

Substitution Sean Scannell joins the action as a substitute, replacing Chris Martin.

74:33

Effort on goal by Anthony Gerrard from just outside the area goes harmlessly over the target.

74:10

Don Cowie crosses the ball, clearance made by Anthony Gardner. Stephen McPhail takes a shot. Blocked by Mile Jedinak.

73:26

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Peter Whittingham by Mile Jedinak. Peter Whittingham takes the direct free kick.

73:19

Centre by Craig Conway, clearance by Patrick McCarthy.

71:04

Unfair challenge on Stephen McPhail by Wilfried Zaha results in a free kick. Tom Heaton takes the direct free kick.

67:29

Peter Whittingham has shot on goal from just outside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.

65:48

Unfair challenge on Craig Conway by Mile Jedinak results in a free kick. Stephen McPhail restarts play with the free kick.

64:40

Glenn Murray sends in a cross, clearance by Ben Turner.

63:10

Long range shot from Mile Jedinak misses to the left of the goal.

62:47

Foul by Anthony Gerrard on Glenn Murray, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Darren Ambrose.

61:52

Wilfried Zaha concedes a free kick for a foul on Aron Gunnarsson. Tom Heaton restarts play with the free kick.

60:33

Nathaniel Clyne challenges Craig Conway unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Peter Whittingham from left wing, clearance made by Glenn Murray. Short corner taken by Stephen McPhail from the right by-line.

59:02

Free kick awarded for a foul by Anthony Gardner on Don Cowie. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Peter Whittingham.

55:23

Strike on goal comes in from Peter Whittingham from the free kick, save by Julian Speroni. Corner taken left-footed by Peter Whittingham, clearance made by Glenn Murray.

55:23 Booking

Booking Patrick McCarthy is given a yellow card.

55:18

Unfair challenge on Kenny Miller by Patrick McCarthy results in a free kick.

54:18

Free kick awarded for a foul by Jonathan Parr on Don Cowie. Stephen McPhail restarts play with the free kick.

51:46

Chris Martin produces a left-footed shot from just outside the penalty area that goes harmlessly over the target.

51:41

The ball is crossed by Jonathan Parr.

50:44

Peter Whittingham produces a left-footed shot from outside the penalty box and misses right.

50:04

Glenn Murray fouled by Ben Turner, the ref awards a free kick. Darren Ambrose takes the direct free kick.

46:16

Nathaniel Clyne produces a cross, clearance made by Anthony Gerrard. Corner taken right-footed by Darren Ambrose to the near post, Header from deep inside the area by Patrick McCarthy goes harmlessly over the crossbar.

45:01

The referee gets the second half started.

45:00 +3:17 Half time

Half Time The referee calls an end to the first half.

45:00 +2:39

The ball is swung over by Craig Conway, Glenn Murray makes a clearance.

45:00 +2:06

The ball is crossed by Craig Conway, clearance made by Patrick McCarthy. Kenny Miller takes a shot from a just insdie the area and hits the post.

45:00 +1:05

Free kick awarded for a foul by Kenny Miller on Mile Jedinak. Patrick McCarthy takes the free kick.

45:00 +0:32

Wilfried Zaha gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Andrew Taylor. Direct free kick taken by Tom Heaton.

41:34

Peter Whittingham fouled by Jonathan Parr, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Don Cowie.

39:02

Effort from the edge of the area by Kenny Miller goes wide of the right-hand upright.

38:01

The free kick is swung in right-footed by Darren Ambrose, Tom Heaton makes a save.

38:01 Booking

Booking Darcy Blake goes into the book.

37:55

Wilfried Zaha fouled by Darcy Blake, the ref awards a free kick.

36:18

Kagisho Dikgacoi gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Peter Whittingham. Andrew Taylor delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel.

34:45

Shot on goal by Andrew Taylor from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.

34:37

Darcy Blake crosses the ball.

33:17

Don Cowie gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Wilfried Zaha. Free kick crossed by Darren Ambrose, save by Tom Heaton.

32:25

A cross is delivered by Darcy Blake, Julian Speroni makes a comfortable save.

30:54

Ben Turner challenges Chris Martin unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Darren Ambrose from right channel.

27:58

Andrew Taylor produces a cross, Headed effort from inside the area by Aron Gunnarsson misses to the left of the goal.

25:43

Kenny Miller challenges Darren Ambrose unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Julian Speroni.

23:17

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Aron Gunnarsson by Mile Jedinak. Peter Whittingham has a direct shot on goal from the free kick, Kagisho Dikgacoi gets a block in.

21:23

The ball is crossed by Darcy Blake, Kenny Miller takes a shot. Save by Julian Speroni.

20:45

Aron Gunnarsson takes a shot. Blocked by Kagisho Dikgacoi.

17:39

Darren Ambrose delivers the ball, clearance made by Anthony Gerrard.

16:58

Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Darren Ambrose, clearance made by Peter Whittingham.

16:13

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Chris Martin by Stephen McPhail. Anthony Gardner takes the direct free kick.

15:36

Anthony Gardner gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kenny Miller. Stephen McPhail takes the free kick.

13:26

Darcy Blake delivers the ball.

12:28

Kenny Miller sends in a cross, Anthony Gardner makes a clearance.

10:39

Effort from 20 yards by Peter Whittingham. Julian Speroni makes a save.

10:05

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Peter Whittingham, clearance by Anthony Gardner.

9:15

Andrew Taylor takes the direct free kick.

9:15 Booking

Booking Nathaniel Clyne is cautioned.

9:09

Nathaniel Clyne concedes a free kick for a foul on Craig Conway.

8:58

Wilfried Zaha produces a cross, Andrew Taylor manages to make a clearance.

7:38

Don Cowie provided the assist for the goal.

6:31 Goal scored

Goal! - Anthony Gardner - Cardiff 1 - 0 C Palace Headed own goal by Anthony Gardner. Cardiff 1 (1)-(1) 0 Crystal Palace.

6:19

Don Cowie sends in a cross.

4:36

Darren Ambrose produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty area that goes harmlessly over the target.

1:35

Ben Turner takes a shot. Save by Julian Speroni.

0:20

Andrew Taylor produces a cross.

0:00

The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.

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