One of the biggest decisions facing Kenny Dalglish prior to the Carling Cup final was whether or not to replace veteran Jamie Carragher with the returning Daniel Agger to partner Martin Skrtel in defence. Dalglish decided on the Dane, with Carragher left on the bench.
Martin Skrtel, quite simply, was immense—as he has been for the last three or four months.
This time last season, Skrtel was the third wheel as Carragher and Agger paired up in defence, but this season the Slovakian has been Liverpool's best player and is in the finest form of his life, and brought out one of his best performances at both ends to help Liverpool claim the trophy.
Though he was maybe caught a little flat in the first half for Cardiff's opener, Skrtel was a beacon of strength in repelling plenty of high passes and crosses from the Bluebirds' midfield, and put in the odd crunching challenge in the second half to remind the forwards that they were not about to pass him a second time.
The biggest moment of the game, from a Liverpool perspective, came just shy of the hour mark as Skrtel collected a rebound off the post from Luis Suarez's header to coolly control and fire his side level, as they previously trailed 1-0.
Skrtel had a chance to score again soon after as he sweetly caught a volley which Cardiff keeper Tom Heaton saved.
Daniel Agger had a quietly effective game, though like Skrtel could be pointed at for the first goal as he ran out of the defensive line to close down an attacker.
Agger was similarly strong aerially and helped launch attacks for the Reds with his runs from deep, but he should have scored before halftime when he headed straight at the keeper from close range.
Late in the match Agger was substituted after he received a whack in the face from an opponent.
Martin Skrtel: 8/10, Man of the Match
Daniel Agger: 7/10