The Merseysiders just about held their nerve in an error-strewn penalty decider, prevailing 3-2 after the two sides had finished locked at 2-2 after a thrilling period of extra-time.
The Premier League club’s shoot-out victory was clinched when Cardiff substitute Anthony Gerrard — cousin of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard — shot wide with Cardiff’s fifth and final spot-kick.
The Cardiff player’s miss came after Liverpool had seen Steven Gerrard’s opening spot-kick saved and Charlie Adam’s second blazed over the bar.
But Cardiff misses from Kenny Miller, Rudy Gestede and finally Gerrard proved decisive for the brave Welsh club from the second tier of English football.
The win was Liverpool’s first trophy since their FA Cup triumph in 2006, and the first since Kop legend Kenny Dalglish returned as manager last year.
The match had gone to penalties after a dramatic period of extra-time which saw Cardiff snatch a 2-2 draw with a leveller from centre-half Ben Turner with just two minutes remaining.
Turner jabbed home from close range to sent Cardiff’s large contingent of travelling fans into raptures at Wembley.
Liverpool had seemed poised to claim victory after substitute Dirk Kuyt fired the Premier League giants 2-1 ahead after 108 minutes.
The extra-time drama unfolded after the two teams finished locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes, Liverpool levelling in the second half through Martin Skrtel after Joe Mason had given Cardiff a shock first-half lead.