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Liverpool win Cup final thriller

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Man-of-the-match Gerrard lifts the FA Cup after a thrilling win.

CARDIFF, Wales -- Liverpool won the FA Cup for the seventh time when they beat West Ham United 3-1 on penalties in Cardiff, after the teams were level at 3-3 after extra time.

Man-of-the match Steven Gerrard scored twice in normal time and rescued Liverpool with a stunning 30-meter equalizer in the first minute of stoppage time.

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina saved three of the four West Ham penalties he faced, becoming the hero after handing West Ham two goals with errors earlier in the match.

The Spaniard saved from Bobby Zamora, Paul Konchesky and Anton Ferdinand while Liverpool scored three of their four attempts as the final was decided on penalties for the second successive season.

In one of the most thrilling FA Cup finals West Ham had blasted into a two-goal lead when Jamie Carragher turned a low cross into his own goal after 20 minutes and Dean Ashton pounced eight minutes later after Reina spilled a Matthew Etherington shot.

Djibril Cisse pulled one back with a stylish volley after 32 minutes and Gerrard, whose pinpoint pass led to that goal, equalized with a thunderous shot in the 54th as both teams poured everything into attack.

West Ham regained the lead when fullback Paul Konchesky's attempted cross from the left caught out Reina and curved into the top corner in the 64th minute.

West Ham's fans were singing to acclaim their first FA Cup triumph since 1980 until Gerrard's brilliant intervention and they were denied again in the last minute of extra time when Reina pushed a bundled effort against a post.

"It was an unbelievable game but we had that never say die attitude and we stuck in there," Gerrard told the BBC.

"I think our best chance was penalties because we had no energy left.

"We always knew if it went to penalties we had a really good chance, we felt he was the better keeper with penalties."

Of his goals he said: "I just wanted to get good contact but the second one was just a dream goal. It was a dream goal and a dream day."

Reina described the final as "an absolutely crazy game."

"It was a really bad performance from me in the game but keepers need to live a small line between mistakes and the saves and all I had to do was keep going."

West Ham captain Nigel Reo-Coker said: "I think we deserved to win that. We worked fantastically hard, I can ask nothing more from the players.

"It was a marvelous Cup final, we gave all we could give. I hope everyone associated with West Ham is proud, we gave it our all."

West Ham manager Alan Pardew told Sky Sports: "It felt like a defeat when the third goal went in but we rallied and had the biggest chance of extra-time.

"We had to dig in, this was a top team we were playing but I really felt we were going to win it. Only a 35-yard smasher from Gerrard was going to change that."

One consolation for West Ham, promoted from the championship a year ago, is that they will go into next year's UEFA Cup despite losing, because Liverpool are already in the Champions League qualifiers, through their third-place finish in the Premier League.

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