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Decade's best: Championship promotion - 2013

16 December 2019

The step that preceded seven consecutive seasons of top flight football and counting: Crystal Palace's promotion to the Premier League in the 2013 play-off final.

Having dispatched Brighton & Hove Albion in the semi-finals thanks to Wilfried Zaha's brace on the south coast, Ian Holloway led Palace to Wembley for a bright spring afternoon and 120 minutes of excruciating viewing.

Palace's rivals that day were Watford, who had finished two points off automatic promotion in third place. The Hornets, managed by the great Gianfranco Zola, were a close adversary for the Eagles and the two teams couldn't be split by the standard 90 minutes of time.

Extra-time loomed and, when Martin Atkinson sounded his whistle around 4:45, fans were subjected to a painfully tense additional half an hour.

The deadlock was finally broken by the season's talisman, Zaha, who was felled clumsily by Marco Cassetti in the Watford box.

Stepping up and feeling "quite calm," former Watford striker and Palace substitute Kevin Phillips slotted home to send the onlooking south Londoners into raptures.

Having avoided conceding throughout the game thanks to a Joel Ward goal-line clearance and Julian Speroni's heroics, Palace held on to their victory and launched themselves into the Premier League.

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