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23 Sep 2010

Liverpool made a shock Carling Cup exit in the third round as League Two's Northampton won the penalty shoot-out.

With the sides locked at 2-2 after extra-time, Abdul Osman kept his cool to slot in the decisive spot-kick.

Milan Jovanovic fired in Liverpool's opener but Billy McKay equalised and Michael Jacobs tapped in to give the Cobblers a worthy lead in extra-time.

David Ngog's late header set up the late drama and as the Reds struggled in the rain, Osman sealed a memorable win.

It was another night of Carling Cup drama for Merseyside football following Everton's surprise exit at Brentford 24 hours before Northampton's visit to Liverpool.

Roy Hodgson opted to give run-outs for a number of fringe players on the back of their weekend defeat by Manchester United, but they started brightly enough as Jovanovic, a summer free transfer from Standard Liege, fired in his first goal for the club after nine minutes.

The Reds were wasteful in front of goal though and would have been wary of their opponents going into the interval with such a slender lead.

And so it proved, as Kevin Thornton out-jumped Sotirios Kyrgiakos to nod over Liam Davis' looping cross for McKay to crash in the equaliser from close range.

With the Anfield faithful sounding increasingly agitated, their team rarely looked capable of grabbing a winner as the visitors held firm at the back to take the match into extra-time.

Northampton, currently 17th in League Two, were the ones dreaming of a fourth-round spot in the Carling Cup as Jacobs poked in after Martin Kelly had blocked Kevin Thornton's shot.

With Kyrgiakos and Kelly both wasteful in the closing stages, it was left for striker Ngog, with four minutes left on the clock, who at last provided the spark to reignite Liverpool's battles.

Substitute Jonjo Shelvey swung in his corner for Ngog to nod in and provide some relief to Hodgson and the home supporters as both teams had to prepare for the penalty shoot-out to settle the tie.

As the rain lashed down, Northampton's Steve Guinan and Liverpool's Ngog missed their spot-kicks as the players struggled with the tension and conditions.

But when 19-year-old substitute Nathan Eccleston hit the crossbar with Liverpool's fourth effort, it was left for Osman to slot home and grab the headlines.


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