Liverpool set up a Carling Cup final against Cardiff after playing out a thrilling 2-2 draw with Manchester City at Anfield to advance 3-2 on aggregate.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, City quickly drew level on aggregate thanks to a superb long-range strike from defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong that flew into the top corner.
Liverpool hit back before half-time when Micah Richards was harshly penalized for handball after a deflection off his leg onto the arm, and Steven Gerrard stepped up to score from the spot.
The Reds kept pushing forward at the start of the second half but a number of superb saves from Joe Hart prevented them from moving into a position of complete control.
City then grabbed a goal against the run of play on 67 minutes to make it 2-1 on the night, with Edin Dzeko converting an excellent Aleksandar Kolarov cross from close range.
Liverpool were not to be denied, though, as Craig Bellamy rounded off a flowing move with a fine finish in the 74th minute to leave City with it all to do in the closing stages.
Roberto Mancini's side battled hard in an effort to send the tie to extra time but the hosts held firm to book a spot at Wembley.
Mancini's decision to start with three centre-backs - Joleon Lescott and Richards either side of the nervy Stefan Savic, with top scorer Sergio Aguero dropped to the bench - looked over-cautious and Liverpool seized the initiative.
Kolarov almost gifted Jose Enrique an opener in the fourth minute from a sliced clearance back across goal but Hart's outstretched foot block the left-back's shot and Stewart Downing screwed his follow-up volley wide.
Gerrard, tasked with a watching brief on David Silva, was booked for an early foul on Gareth Barry but it was the tackle of Charlie Adam on Dzeko from Silva's corner which could have done more damage to Liverpool but there were few City appeals for a penalty and referee Phil Dowd was unmoved.
Bellamy was Liverpool's most threatening outlet and he drew another save out of Hart after turning Savic on the edge of the box before having a goal disallowed for offside.
The home side dominated the opening half-hour but they were hit with a career-best goal from De Jong.
Having collected a square pass from Silva 30 yards out the trajectory of his sweetly-struck shot started outside Jose Reina's left-hand post but curled back enough to brilliantly beat the goalkeeper.
De Jong goals are a rarity - it was only his second in 118 appearances - but there was far more familiarity about the goal which put Liverpool back in front on aggregate.
Dowd generously decided Daniel Agger's shot which deflected up off Richards and on to his arm was a penalty and Gerrard, scorer from the spot in the first encounter, fired home to make it four consecutive goals in league cup semi-finals, having scored in both legs against Watford in 2005.
Savic was replaced by Aguero for the second half as City reverted to a flat back four but Liverpool were first to threaten again as Gerrard whipped in a free-kick from the left and Hart half-punched only to redeem himself by tipping over Martin Skrtel's goalbound shot.
The England goalkeeper, as he had done in November's league draw at Anfield, superbly kept the Reds at bay again when he tipped over Downing's downward volley from Dirk Kuyt's cross.
Silva wasted a free-kick from the right after the Spaniard was booked for fouling Zabaleta but there could not have been a greater contrast with Kolarov's cross in the 67th minute.
The Serbian drilled a low ball from wide on the left across Liverpool's six-yard box for Dzeko, who had lost Agger, to tap in at the far post.
Liverpool has a habit of producing fairytale finishes under the Anfield floodlights and so it proved.
Kuyt's pass in from the right to Bellamy was laid off to Glen Johnson who immediately bounced the ball back to the Welshman who curled home with his left foot.
Having effectively had his City career ended by Mancini after a fall-out with the Italian, it is unlikely the delicious irony was lost on the 32-year-old.
Kuyt headed wide Henderson's cross before Bellamy departed to a standing ovation, with even some among the City fans applauding his efforts.