Cardiff's Malky Mackay delighted by Tom Heaton heroics

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Mackay delighted with Cardiff display

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay said justice was done as goalkeeper Tom Heaton ended the hero in his side's Carling Cup semi-final victory over Crystal Palace.

The Bluebirds booked their place at Wembley thanks to 3-1 penalty shootout win over 10-man Palace after the tie finished 1-1 after extra-time.

Heaton saved twice in the shootout having been partly at fault for Palace's goal in the first leg.

"Considering the first leg, maybe there was a bit of justice," Mackay said.

"We beat someone else on penalties in the competition. The guys who took the penalties had a steely nerve and determination, and I'm absolutely delighted for Tom Heaton, who has been our cup goalkeeper."

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Heaton looking forward to Wembley

Heaton, who is the club's second-choice keeper and has played throughout the competition, saved spot-kicks by Jermaine Easter and Sean Scannell as Cardiff became the first second-tier side to reach the League Cup final since 2001.

They will face either Liverpool or Manchester City in the final after an early own-goal by Anthony Gardner took the tie to extra-time and penalties.

But with the hosts hitting the woodwork three times, and Palace defender Paddy McCarthy dismissed after 78 minutes for a second booking, Mackay said the victory was deserved.

"It does go through your mind [that it might not be your night]," the Scot told BBC Sport. "But at the same time I have so much belief in the players, and their character. They don't know when to lie down and just let it go. The crowd tonight played their part and really pushed the team on, and the sprit there tonight, they deserved it."

He added: "We're proud of everyone of here, the [Malaysian owners] have been so, so supportive of me and the way that we've wanted to go about the job so I'm delighted for everyone."

Heaton, 25, told BBC Sport that he had done his homework on where some of the Palace players might hit their penalties.

"It's a great night for Cardiff City," he added. "I was a spectator for much of the game and when I got involved it was great to play a part in getting us to Wembley.

"We played some great football tonight and made some great chances and kept going, and that's a sign of where the team are, we didn't give up and there was still a great feeling that it was going to be our night."

Palace manager Dougie Freedman was quoted before the match saying that Cardiff were guilty in the past of falling at the last hurdle, and Heaton said the players had used the comments as motivation.

"We were aware of it," the keeper explained. "Everyone has their opinion and fortunately we have proved that wrong."

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Freedman lauds Palace desire

Freedman said he was proud of the performance as his team's run in the competition came to an end after a memorable quarter-final victory over Manchester United.

And the Scottish manager said he had no complaints about referee Howard Webb's decision to send off McCarthy, leaving his side to battle through extra-time with 10 men.

"Obviously I'm disappointed with the outcome but the lads were tremendous, we've won a lot of hearts on the back of that performance," he told BBC Sport.

"It was a sending off. He's a very good referee who gets most things right. He got it right.

"Cardiff are an outstanding team, never mind we'd only got 10 men, but we came at them.

"We showed some fantastic pace on the break. We fight for each other and on another night we'd have maybe taken one of our opportunities, but we deserved to take it to penalties.

"We've come a long way in such a short space of time. We've taken a lot from this and hopefully will move on quickly."

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