Norma time and extra time could not separate Liverpool and Championship Cardiff, but the penalty shoot-out saw the Reds eventually triumph 3-2 on spot kicks after the game ended 2-2.
Liverpool continue to be the most successful team in the League Cup as they lifted the trophy for the eighth time, but how Cardiff pushed them all the way.
Liverpool have struggled this season against the lesser lights of the Premiership and this habit continued against their Championship opponents from South Wales.
Even though the Reds hit the woodwork through Glen Johnson in the opening minutes it was Cardiff who deservedly went in at the break one goal to the good.
Kenny Miller threaded a ball through a square Reds defence and Joe Mason fired low through the legs of keeper Pepe Reina. Liverpool immediately hit back and pressed for the remainder of the half but struggled against a firm Bluebirds rearguard.
The Merseysiders improved after the break and restored parity on the hour. Andy Carroll’s header hit the post but Martin Skrtel reacted quickest to equalise.
For all Liverpool’s continued pressure they could not find a way through and in the last minute Miller had a wonderful opportunity to win the cup for Cardiff, but from ten yards he blazed over.
Extra time came and with 12 minutes remaining Dirk Kuyt seemed to have clinched the win as his initial effort was blocked but the Dutchman sweetly hit the rebound into the back of the net and hand the Reds the lead for the first time in the game.
But Cardiff fully deserved to level for the effort they had put into the game and did so with two minutes of extra-time left.
Liverpool failed to clear a corner and in the ensuing scramble Ben Turner turned the ball over the line.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Cardiff scorers: Mason 19, Turner 118
Liverpool scorers: Skrtel 60, Kuyt 108
TRIBAL ASKS: Liverpool are still very much work in progress after this laboured victory, but it just might be the start of more success.
Yellow cards: Henderson (LIV), Mason (CAR), Turner (CAR)