A superb individual goal from Wilfried Zaha booked Crystal Palace’s spot in the fifth round of the FA Cup as they edged past Stoke City in an entertaining encounter.
The winger produced the game’s telling contribution on 17 minutes when squeezed through the Potters defence and calmly finished the opportunity, and he proved to be a constant menace to the visitors throughout the game as he was involved in the best of the Eagles’ play.
Stoke had chances to draw level but some wasteful shooting from Xherdan Shaqiri and Joselu ensured Wayne Hennessey kept his sheet clean and Alan Pardew’s side’s passage into the next round.
The first couple of chances of the contest fell to the home side and after Chung-yong Lee dragged a shot wide, the winger picked out Fraizer Campbell inside the area but his scuffed volley into the ground lacked power and was cleared.
The pressure continued and on 17 minutes the Eagles took the lead. Yohan Cabaye found Zaha in a central position 25 yards out who burst towards the box, and a wonderful bit of skill got him in between Stephen Ireland and Marc Wilson to hand him a sight of goal, and he coolly slotted the ball between the advancing Jakob Haugaard’s legs to score his second in the competition this term.
Palace nearly doubled their advantage a couple of minutes later when they won the ball and pushed forward, winning a corner. Cabaye’s cross went straight across the box, but Campbell put it back into the danger area and Joe Ledley steered a header just wide.
It took Stoke 25 minutes to register their first real chance and it came after they won a corner of their own. Shaqiri’s delivery found an unmarked Wilson but his header was blocked before the ball was cleared into the path of Joselu who ballooned it over from a good position 18 yards out.
With six minutes of the half remaining Mark Hughes’ men created their best chance of the first 45 when some neat play by Ireland and Shaqiri saw the winger slip inside and create a shooting chance for himself, but his attempted curler to the top corner whistled just over Hennessey’s bar.
After the restart Joel Ward took aim from 30 yards but couldn’t quite continue his fine goalscoring form this season as his effort bounced a yard wide five minutes into the second half, but it was so nearly 2-0 when Pape Souare put the ball on a plate for Campbell who hit it on target, but from point-blank range Haugaard somehow managed to tip it over the bar.
A minute later though and Hennessey was called into action for the first time when Peter Odemwingie got free inside the area and got a shot away from a tight angle, but the Welshman managed to prevent the ball sneaking in at his near post with his feet.
Stoke continued to create good chances and Shaqiri wasted a golden one when he was played in by Bojan, and another cute piece of skill saw him wriggle past Damien Delaney but his shot couldn’t match the play that preceded it as he blasted into the crowd at the Whitehorse Lane end.
The Eagles knew that one more goal would probably secure their place in round five and Campbell again had a chance to do just that after Lee broke forward and squared the ball across the edge of the area but the striker again miscued, but Zaha was causing Stoke so many problems and after putting in a teasing cross across the face of goal that eluded Scott Dann by the length of a stud, he fizzed a shot just wide of the far post 10 minutes from time.
There were a couple of late chances for the visitors in the final stages and after Phil Bardsley saw a powerful free-kick from 30 yards covered by Hennessey, Joselu screwed a volley wide of the mark in stoppage time as the Eagles held on and advanced to the next round.
Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Delaney, Dann, Souare, Ledley (Jedinak 46), Cabaye (Mutch 46), Zaha, Puncheon, Lee, Campbell (Chamakh 81): Subs not used: Speroni, Mariappa, Hangeland, Kelly.
Stoke City: Haugaard, Bardsley, Wilson, Wollscheid, Pieters, van Ginkel, Ireland, Shaqiri, Bojan (Crouch 74), Odemwingie (Diouf 74), Joselu. Subs not used: Butland, Teixeira, Muniesa, Whelan, Afellay.