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Originally published Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 8:25 AM

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Liverpool wins League Cup on penalty kicks

Liverpool won its first trophy in six years Sunday, beating second-tier Cardiff 3-2 in a penalty shootout to capture the League Cup while Manchester United kept the Premier League title race bubbling with a last-gasp victory.

The Associated Press

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LONDON —

Liverpool won its first trophy in six years Sunday, beating second-tier Cardiff 3-2 in a penalty shootout to capture the League Cup while Manchester United kept the Premier League title race bubbling with a last-gasp victory.

It was a bittersweet day for Liverpool captain Steve Gerrard, who collected the club's eighth League Cup title after cousin Anthony Gerrard missed the decisive penalty kick for Cardiff at Wembley Stadium.

"It's always cruel when it comes to penalties," Steven Gerrard said. "It was always going to be that one of us was sad and one celebrating. I've got mixed emotions. I'm delighted to win the cup for our supporters. But I feel for Anthony and Cardiff. It doesn't matter what I say to him - he's going to be down. I'll be there for him."

The score was 1-1 after 90 minutes and 2-2 after extra time, with Cardiff defender Ben Turner taking the match to penalty kicks with a goal in the 118th minute.

"It's not a nice way to win a cup but we'll take it," said Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who delivered a trophy for the club's American owners 13 months after returning to one of England's most successful teams.

Ryan Giggs marked his 900th game for United by scoring a stoppage-time winner in a 2-1 win at Norwich. United is two points behind Manchester City.

Third-place Tottenham's title hopes were damaged after losing 5-2 to Arsenal. Tottenham is eight points behind United and seven ahead of Arsenal, which climbed back above Chelsea to fourth place by virtue of ihaving more goals.

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Lionel Messi scored on a looping free kick in the 81st minute, giving Barcelona a 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid that kept the three-time defending Spanish league champions 10 points behind first-place Real Madrid.

Dani Alves scored for Barcelona in the 36th minute, but Radamel Falcao tied it in the 49th. Messi put Barcelona back ahead with his 43rd goal of the season, his 28th in the league. Barcelona won for the first time in three road games and sent Atletico to its first loss in 10 games under new coach Diego Simeone.

Cristiano Ronaldo gave Real Madrid a 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano with a superb back-heeled goal in the 54th minute. Ronaldo leads the league with 29 goals and has 37 overall this season. Madrid has won nine straight road games in the league.

Jesus Navas set up one goal and scored another to give Sevilla a 2-1 win at third-place Valencia, which has won just once in eight games. Nilmar scored his first goal in five months to give Villarreal a 2-2 home draw with Athletic Bilbao.

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MILAN (AP) - Inter Milan lost for the seventh time in eight matches, 1-0 at Napoli as Ezequiel Lavezzi scored in the 59th minute.

Napoli defender Salvatore Aronica was sent off in the 78th minute for a serious foul. Giampaolo Pazzini missed a good chance to tie the score in the 88th minute as Inter went scoreless for the fifth straight match in all competitions.

Lazio defeated Fiorentina 1-0 on Miroslav Klose's goal in the 36th minute. Udinese beat Bologna 3-1 to remain even with third-place Lazio. Antonio Di Natale put Udinese ahead in the 38th minute with a penalty kick, his league-leading 18th goal, and Dusan Basta made it 2-1 in the 57th. After Panagiotis Kone scored for Bologna in the 81st, Antonio Floro Flores restored Udinese's two-goal advantage three minutes later.

German Denis scored a hat trick as struggling Atalanta won 4-1 at home against fifth-place Roma, which finished with nine men. Atalanta is seven points above the relegation zone after Lecce beat Cagliari 2-1. Siena routed Palermo 4-1.

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BERLIN (AP) - Franck Ribery scored twice for Bayern Munich to beat Schalke 2-0 in the Bundesliga and stem talk of a crisis engulfing the club.

Ribery put the home team ahead in the 36th minute. In the 55th minute, he combined with Thomas Mueller before firing a deflected shot beyond the helpless Timo Hildebrand.

Bayern started the day in third place and Schalke would have overtaken the Bavarians with a win. Before kickoff, Bayern President Franz Beckenbauer declared it "the most important game of the whole season."

Bayern remains four points behind leader Borussia Dortmund, which stretched its unbeaten run to 17 games with a 3-1 home win over Hannover.

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AMSTERDAM (AP) - American forward Jozy Altidore scored in the 26th and 58th minutes of AZ Alkmaar's 3-3 draw against Heerenveen.

Following his second two-goal game in February, Altidore has nine league goals this season and 13 overall.

AZ Alkmaar is second with 46 points - two behind PSV Eindhoven, which beat Feyenoord 3-2 thanks to Zakaria Labyad's winning goal in the 85th minute. Guyon Fernandez's two goals inside seven minutes gave Feyenoord hope before Labyad's late winner.

Luuk de Jong's 44th-minute goal secured a 1-0 win for FC Twente against FC Utrecht. Twente, which has a game in hand, is third with 45 points.

Siem de Jong scored twice to lead Ajax over Excelsior Rotterdam 4-1.

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PARIS (AP) - Defending champion Lille missed the chance to close the gap on second place after giving up a goal late for a 1-1 tie at Rennes, and Marseille's 16-game unbeaten streak in all competitions ended with a 1-0 loss at Brest that damaged its bid for a Champions League place.

Lille looked set for a third straight 1-0 road win after Aurelien Chedjou's 40th-minute goal, but Mevlut Erding volleyed home a looping pass from Jean Armel Kana-Biyik in the 90th minute. Lille remains in third place, seven points behind Montpellier and six back of Paris Saint-Germain.

Brest scored against Marseille when defender Paul Baysse headed in a corner kick in the 17th minute. Marseille coach Didier Deschamps was angry his team was not awarded a penalty kick in the first minute, when defender Johan Martial appeared to foul Brazilian striker Brandao.

Toulouse rose to sixth by beating last-place Sochaux 2-0. Aymen Abdennour and Emmanuel Riviere scored a goal in each half. American forward Charlie Davies entered in the 78th minute, just his second appearance for Sochaux since recovering from severe injuries suffered in a 2009 car crash.

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GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) - Rangers beat Inverness 4-1 to strengthen their hold on second place in the Scottish Premier league.

Steven Davis, Sone Aluko and Andy Little scored first-half goals and Lee McCulloch added another in the second half for Rangers. The team was docked 10 points last week after going into a form of bankruptcy protection.

The victory allowed the defending champions to open a six-point cushion over third-place Motherwell, which lost 1-0 to Celtic on Saturday. First-place Celtic has a 20-point lead.

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