Manchester City's Richards handles the ball to award a penalty to Liverpool during their English League Cup semi-final soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool
Manchester City's Micah Richards (R) handles the ball to award a penalty to Liverpool during their English League Cup semi-final soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England January 25, 2012.

Former Premier League referee Graham Poll believes Liverpool were incredibly fortunate to be awarded a penalty against Manchester City on Wednesday night.

Liverpool progressed through to the Carling Cup final after a 2-2 draw at Anfield overcame Manchester City 3-2 on aggregate, but the aforementioned former referee believes Phil Dowd, who was the match official last night, got a Richards decision wrong.

The Manchester City defender and captain on the night blocked Liverpool counterpart Daniel Agger's shot from close range. The ball appeared to strike the hand of the England international and Dowd pointed to the spot. On second look the decision to penalise the Manchester City star's timely intervention seemed incredibly harsh, particularly as the ball struck Richards' leg first.

Poll believes Dowd "made two errors" in the penalty award suggesting Liverpool should not have been afforded the opportunity to level the scores on the night, which Steven Gerrard duly did.

"Phil Dowd made two errors in awarding Liverpool a penalty after the ball hit Micah Richards' arm." Poll told the Daily Mail while discussing the penalty award.

"Firstly, with Richards two yards away from the ball as it was struck and his arms in a natural position, the handball had to be accidental. On top of that, the ball hit his arm after being deflected off his foot.

"Dowd's second error was to mime what he thought he saw. He put both arms above his head to indicate what the City defender had done wrong.

"When looking at replays, while one of Richards' arms is above his head, it is not the one that the ball struck after deflecting, so Dowd's perception - which he repeatedly made clear - did not match the fact.

"A handball must be deliberate to be given as a foul.

"Referees are told to consider the proximity of the offender to the opponent striking the ball, the speed the ball is travelling, whether the arms are in a natural position and if the player had a chance of getting out of the way.

"You can see why Manchester City were so upset."

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes his side have suffered from poor decision of late, referring to the red card issued to Vincent Kompany recently.

Mancini believes Dowd made an error in his award of Liverpool's penalty and admitted he did feel a "sense of injustice".

The Manchester City boss told The Daily Mail: "It was no penalty, the ball touched his leg before his hands. I don't know how it is possible to concede a penalty like this.

"I do feel a sense of injustice. In the last two months we have been very unlucky with referees. I haven't spoken to the referee - it's impossible to speak to him."

Liverpool will now face Cardiff City in the final in their first Wembley final in 16-years.