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Liverpool's five most memorable League Cups ahead of Sunday's final

With the stage set for Liverpool's 12th League Cup final (they won eight of their previous 11), we look at five of their sweetest triumphs:

1982: 3-1 vs. Tottenham Hotspur

In recovering from 1-0 down to a Steve Archibald goal, Liverpool become the second team after Nottingham Forest to retain the League Cup. It was the first of three successive league and League Cup doubles for the Reds: Having languished in 12th place in the league on Boxing Day (Jurgen Klopp take note?), they surged to win the title on the last day of the season -- again beating Tottenham 3-1.

Heroes of the hour? Ronnie Whelan, then 20, made a name for himself at Wembley by scoring twice (Ian Rush claimed the other goal), while manager Bob Paisley telling his team to remain standing before extra time to try to intimidate Spurs would surely also appeal to Klopp.

1995: 2-1 vs. Bolton Wanderers

Bruce Rioch's swashbuckling Bolton side, playing in the second tier, had won admirers en route to the Wembley final, led by the likes of Jason McAteer, Alan Stubbs, Alan Thompson and John McGinlay. They were outgunned by a Liverpool team containing John Barnes, Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Fowler and captain Rush.

Hero of the hour? This was the Steve McManaman final, confirming his rise from junior partner to big-stage match winner. A teasing run and finish earned the lead; he then he cut in from the left to curl past Keith Branagan before Thompson pulled a goal back.

2001: 5-4 on penalties vs. Birmingham City (1-1 after extra time)

Captain Fowler's goal put the Reds on course for a first trophy in six years, but the final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium went the distance after Darren Purse equalised with a penalty given for Stephane Henchoz's injury-time foul on Martin O'Connor.

Heroes of the hour? Goalkeeper Sander Westerveld was pivotal in the shootout, denying Birmingham's Martin Grainger and Andy Johnson. On target for the victors were Gary McAllister, Nick Barmby, Christian Ziege, Fowler and Jamie Carragher.

Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool lifted the League Cup in 2012, needing penalties to defeat Cardiff.

2003: 2-0 vs. Manchester United

A 39th-minute Steven Gerrard shot that deflected off David Beckham put the Reds in front in Cardiff, and Michael Owen broke clear four minutes from time to add a second. It had been a mixed season, and Owen and manager Gerard Houllier would depart the following summer.

Hero of the hour? Again it was the goalkeeper: Jerzy Dudek had been culpable for both of Diego Forlan's goals when United won 2-1 at Anfield that season, yet he was back on song against United here.

2012: 3-2 on penalties vs. Cardiff City (2-2 after extra time)

Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez were in tandem up front at Wembley as Dalglish, in his second spell as boss, collected Liverpool's first trophy after another six-year itch, again via a shootout. Anthony Gerrard, cousin of Steven, missed the decisive spot-kick for Cardiff.

Heroes of the hour? Take your pick from keeper Pepe Reina or goalscorers Martin Skrtel (the first Liverpool player to score at Wembley since McManaman in 1995) and Dirk Kuyt. The Dutchman also scored in the shootout, along with Stewart Downing and Glen Johnson, after misses by Gerrard and Charlie Adam.

Tom is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @writertombell.


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