Aston Villa booked an FA Cup final meeting with Arsenal after Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph struck to stun Liverpool at Wembley.

Philippe Coutinho put the seven-time winners ahead after 29 minutes but Benteke scored his ninth goal in seven games to level before the break.

Nine minutes after the break Villa secured their place in just their second final since last winning the competition in 1957 as Benteke and the superb Jack Grealish combined to find Delph, who rifled past Simon Mignolet from close range.

Steven Gerrard's header was cleared off the line by Kieran Richardson and Mario Balotelli saw his goal wrongly chalked off for offside but Liverpool mustered little in response and face a third straight season under Brendan Rodgers without a major trophy.

Gerrard's 17-year career at the club will now not end with a showcase final appearance on his 35th birthday but the headlines belong to Tim Sherwood's relegation threatened side who face Arsenal on 30 May with a chance to win their first major trophy for 19 years, less than three months after the ex-Tottenham Hotspur boss was appointed to replace Paul Lambert.

The summer departure of Gerrard had initially taken another step towards reaching a poignant end as he was recalled from suspension from the start by Rodgers in the Reds' 24th semi-final appearance in the competition.

Gerrard had not started since February and came into a Liverpool team, though again without Daniel Sturridge, that had won five of its last seven games in all competitions but were without a major trophy since 2006.

Though underdogs to reach just their second final since their last victory in the competition 58 years ago, Villa had enjoyed a resurgence under Sherwood, pulling clear of the relegation zone after beating Tottenham Hotspur and in Benteke they had the in-form striker in English football.

An injury crisis had however threatened to derail Sherwood's plans to reach the second domestic final of his football career, with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Carlos Sanchez among those missing however the win at Anfield earlier in the season gave the Villains hope they could play more than a supporting role at Wembley.

And in the opening exchanges, the Midlands club appeared the more settled, with Benteke drifting out to match-up with Emre Can and allowing Villa some early control which allowed Charles N'Zogbia to manufacture the first meaningful effort which was tipped over by Mignolet.

It was the only effort of note in an opening which lacked cohesiveness and flow, and even forced Liverpool into a tactical change as Rodgers reverted to four at the back and pushed Lazar Markovic to the right of a front three.

It was a change which paid immediate dividends as Liverpool thrusted themselves into the lead as after substitute Jores Okore, who had replaced Nathan Baker four minutes earlier, failed to clear Coutinho was slipped through by Sterling and calmly chipped the ball over the onrushing Shay Given.

But Liverpool were able to bask in the glow of Rodgers's tactical masterstroke for just five minutes as Villa levelled in the flash. Grealish sent Delph clear and his pull back found the unmarked Benteke, who stroked the ball beyond Mignolet.

Coutinho almost added a second but saw his shot deflected over in amid a flurry of entertainment at the end of the half which set up a fascinating second period.

Mario Balotelli, who had scored four goals in his debut campaign on Merseyside, was introduced at the break to give the Reds a focal point in attack but it was Villa's marksman who carved out the first chance after the break as Benteke's shot on the run was gathered by Mignolet.

However, Villa were encouraged by Liverpool's slow start to the half and took the lead for the first time in the tie as Grealish played in Delph, who cut inside an off-balance Dejan Lovren and slammed home.

Despite having Balotelli in attack, Liverpool looked rudderless in their attempt to find an equaliser with Villa providing the greater threat with Benteke and Grealish given the freedom of Wembley to cause havoc on the break.

Gerrard did see his goalbound effort headed off the line and Balotelli had his goal wrongly ruled out for offside, but few could argue with the end result which sees Villa set up a Wembley return against Arsenal in the pair's first ever meeting in the final of the world's oldest cup competition.