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Wembley At 10: Palace Memories

24 March 2017


10 years ago today in March 2007, the new Wembley Stadium opened its doors to its first official match when England under-21s played Italy, and over the course of the subsequent decade some of Palace's best memories have come at the rebuilt venue.

The Eagles have played under the arch three times, and here we look back at those encounters that brought joy and despair to the Selhurst faithful.

27th May 2013
Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford (aet)
Championship play-off final


A Kevin Phillips penalty in extra-time sealed promotion for Crystal Palace to the Premier League after they saw off the challenge of Watford in the Championship play-off final by a single goal.

After coming through the play-offs without conceding a goal, Ian Holloway's side delivered the ultimate prize of top-flight action after a nerve-wracking 120 minutes at Wembley.

Just like the classic cup-finals of the past, the two sides emerged onto a pristine pitch basked in sunshine to a rapturous welcome with the Eagles fans creating a carnival-like atmosphere, thanks to hundreds of red and blue balloons which bobbed around their half of the stadium in the early stages.

The key moment came just before the end of the first period of extra-time when Phillips dispatched a superb penalty kick into the top corner after a clumsy foul by Marco Cassetti on Wilfried Zaha, playing his final game before his summer move to Manchester United.

Watford almost equalised at the very end but Joel Ward headed off the line from Fernando Forestieri as the Eagles held on to win a match that had been described as being worth £120m to the victors.

Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Jedinak, Dikgacoi (O'Keefe 18), Garvan (Moritz 84), Williams (Phillips 66), Zaha, Wilbraham. Subs not used: Price, Richards, Ramage, Bolasie.

24th April 2016
Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford
FA Cup semi-final


A Connor Wickham pinpoint header sealed a FA Cup final place for the Eagles as they beat Watford 2-1 to set up a rematch of the 1990 classic against Manchester United.

Wickham’s 61st minute strike ensured that history would repeat itself in one of the world’s most famous sporting competitions, and send the Eagles to only their second ever final appearance in the competition.

Palace had led for most of the first half thanks to a sixth minute header from Yannick Bolasie, only for Watford to equalise 10 minutes into the second half with a 55th minute header from captain Troy Deeney.

Palace carved out the better chances with Bolasie's power and Wilfried Zaha's boundless energy putting Watford's over-worked defence under pressure, while at the other end Alan Pardew's team produced a resolute and stubborn defensive performance.

Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare, Cabaye, Jedinak, Bolasie (McArthur 74), Puncheon (Sako 81), Zaha, Wickham (Adebayor 86).  Subs not used: Speroni, Kelly, Ledley, Gayle.


21st May 2016
Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United (aet)
FA Cup final


It was heartbreak again for Palace in the FA Cup final as 10-man Manchester United came from behind to win 2-1 after extra-time thanks to substitute Jesse Lingard’s winner.
 
The final whistle saw the Eagles players fall to the ground in emotional and physical exhaustion after giving it their all over 120 minutes as Alan Pardew suffered an FA Cup final loss for the third time.
 
Much had been said before the match about the similarities between this and the Eagles' only previous appearance in the final, back in 1990 against United, and it was brought to 2016 with Steve Coppell and Sir Alex Ferguson, managers of both teams 26 years ago, bringing the famous old trophy onto the pitch.

Louis van Gaal's team looked on course to end the season empty-handed as well as missing out on Champions League football when substitute Jason Puncheon's powerful far-post finish put Palace ahead with 12 minutes left.

United had hit the woodwork through Marouane Fellaini and Antony Martial, but they responded within four minutes with a brilliant run from Wayne Rooney that ended with Juan Mata scoring from close range.

The Red Devils lost Smalling to a second yellow card for hauling back Yannick Bolasie in extra-time, but Lingard took the trophy to Old Trafford when he lashed home a first-time strike after 110 minutes.

Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann (Mariappa 90+4), Delaney, Souare, Jedinak, Cabaye (Puncheon 72), Zaha, McArthur, Bolasie, Wickham (Gayle 86). Subs not used: Speroni, Kelly, Sako, Adebayor.

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