Steven Gerrard
Liverpool's Gerrard lifts the trophy with teammates after their English League Cup final match against Cardiff City in London.

Liverpool legend Alan Hansen believes winning the Carling Cup can provide Liverpool with the momentum they need to achieve qualification for the Champions League and challenge for the Premier League title.

The Reds overcame a dogged Cardiff City to win Sunday's clash at Wembley on penalties - their first trophy since the 2006 FA Cup final.

And the aforementioned Liverpool legend has challenged Kenny Dalglish's side to use their cup success as a springboard to compete for domestic and European honours once again.

"When you get a trophy on the board, however, everybody at [Liverpool] acquires the taste for more, from the owners, through to the players and on to the supporters," Hansen told the Telegraph.

"But for Liverpool to really make strides towards competing for the Champions League and Premier League titles once again, they have to finish in the top four this season.

"Only when that happens will the club be in a position to attract the very best players by offering them the platform on which they all want to perform. Liverpool has great history and tradition, but when you are trying to sign top players, what they all want is Champions League football."

The former Liverpool centre-back insists that the final victory "could prove to be a defining moment in the club's history" but cautioned Dalglish's side not to rest on their laurels ahead of a crucial run-in to the end of the season.

The Reds are currently seventh in the Premier League table, seven points behind fourth-placed Arsenal but Hansen remains adamant that the club will have received an enormous morale boost following yesterday's victory that could fire them into the top-four.

"Liverpool's penalty shoot-out victory against Cardiff will have given Kenny Dalglish's team an incredible injection of confidence, belief and crucial momentum at what is approaching crunch time in the season," Hansen added.

"For a club of Liverpool's stature, the priority this season has to be qualification for the Champions League and I believe they simply had to win at Wembley to sustain that ambition.

"By winning, however, Liverpool now have the opportunity to go from strength to strength and capitalise on the cathartic effect of ending the club's six-year wait for a trophy."