The veteran striker Kevin Phillips, only months away from his 40th birthday, came on as a substitute in the Championship play-off final at Wembley to score a penalty against Watford that takes Crystal Palace back to the Premiership next season.
Phillips embraced his manager Ian Holloway when referee Martin Atkinson blew the final whistle after both teams played extra time. It was goalless after 90 minutes. Holloway said this would be “a life-changing day.”
Well over 33,000 Eagles supporters made the biggest noise in the stadium.
Wilfried Zaha, playing his last game for Palace, after his £15 million transfer to Manchester United is man of the match.
The game seemed evenly matched during the first half, but Palace had enough chances in the second half to win.
The penalty was won by Zaha who was a constant threat to the Watford defence. It was taken by Kevin Phillips at the end of the first half of extra time.
This is dubbed the richest game in soccer because of the financial rewards to teams reaching the top flight in terms of the share-out in television rights. Palace chair Steve Parish and his three co-owners have experienced a remarkable journey in a club that was in administration and feared extinction three years ago.
Here is a fan’s perspective, high up in the West End of the stadium with the 33,000 Eagles supporters.
Reaction from npower Championship League interviews
The winning manager Ian Holloway “He’s done it again.”
The veteran striker Kevin Phillips who at 39 scored the winning penalty.
The goalkeeper Julian Speroni who had to guard his goalposts to the last second.
Crystal Palace players celebrating after collecting their medals and trophy. The dream of playing in the Premiership next season is a reality. Next stop: Stamford Bridge, Anfield, White Hart Lane, Old Trafford, Etihad, Emerites, St James’s Park, and Goodison.
One minute of extra time. Last chances for Watford. Two corners. Full-time. Crystal Palace win.
Final minute. Clearance off the Palace line. Ward heads the ball away.
Are Palace defending too deep? Handball call from Watford. Martin Atkinson says no. Ekstrand’s shot is blocked. Referee says it hit Ward in the chest.
Palace five minutes away from Premiership glory. Will they return? Last there in 2005 under Ian Downie.
Wilbraham in possession and playing the ball to the corner.
Watford free kick. Shooting chance. 8 minutes of second half of extra-time gone and comfortable save by Speroni.
Crystal Palace 1 Watford 0 Has Kevin Phillips scored his last goal in his last game in his 40th year to put the Eagles into the Premiership and the promise of over £120 million?
Watford corner. Watford fans have been quiet and glum. Palace fans loud, excited and filling Wembley with a roar of expectation and excitement.
Crystal Palace about 14 minutes away from getting back into the Premiership. Ian Holloway animated. Zaha appears to have cramp. Wilbraham apparently fouled badly, but not seen by the referee. Wilbraham rolling around in agony. That could have been a red card.
Goal for Palace. Kevin Phillips penalty unstoppable. Top corner.
Zaha fouled. Zaha down under the challenge of Cassetti. Palace penalty. Veteran Kevin Phillips taking penalty for Palace. Two months short of his fortieth birthday.
Zaha is fouled. Palace free kick. Ricochet. Zaha lays shot on for Delanay, but did not threaten Watford goal.
Palace player has taken a bang and is getting treatment. Back on his feet.
Zaha nicks the ball from Watford and gets a throw-in.
Speroni saves Palace, gets a hand in on the ground to clear his goal from Deeney. Early pressure from Watford and start better.
Watford kicking off extra-time. Last time a Championship play-off final had gone to penalties was 2002. Holloway gave his team talk in a huddle.
Jedinek header from corner saved by Almunia. Full time whistle from Martin Atkinson. Play-off final heading for extra time. Crystal Palace 0 Watford 0
Zaha gets shot in. Blocked by Doyley. Palace corner. Zaha played in by O’Keefe.
Watford attack. Troy Deeney’s overhead kick did not come off. Two Palace goal kicks. Three additional minutes to be played.
Legs of players look laboured and tired. The Wembley pitch is energy sapping. 2 minutes to go.
4 minutes to go. Still nil nil. Both teams have all their substitutes on the pitch.
Wilbraham shoots, Almunia saves with his legs.
Garvan shot, well saved. Palace deserve a goal. All the noise from Palace supporters. Ian Holloway is bringing on another substitute. Owen Garvan going off for Moritz.
10 minutes to go. Still nil nil. Wilbraham nearly through- intercepted.
12 minutes to go. Ward cross, punched away by Almunia. Palace corner. Tension at Wembley. Anxiety that team that makes the first mistake will pay the price.
77 minutes played so far. Watford substitution. Battocchio for Chalobah. 82,025 is the official attendance at Wembley. Perplexing number of empty seats in middle section of the stadium. A lot of Palace fans would have liked to have had those tickets?
Damien Delaney reliable in Palace defence. Zaha and O’Keefe showing good understanding. Garvin shoots- just wide. Pace of Wilfried Zaha is troubling Watford midfield and defence. Palace creating best chances in this half.
Another chance for Wilbraham. His shot blocked by keeper. Huge pressure from Palace as corners and throw-in create pressure. Couple of good chances in quick succession there for Palace. Almunia saves Watford with good goalkeeping.
Zaha plays in O’Keefe who shoots, fantastic save from Watford keeper. Corner to Palace. Kevin Phillips on for Palace.
Kevin Phillips, turning 40 this summer, warming up on the bench. Will he come on for the last 15 or 20 minutes?
Half an hour left in second half. Each side has received 2 yellow cards from referee Martin Atkinson.
Wilbraham had good chance but could not shoot on target. He took too long and his shot is charged down.
First save of the match is a routine one for Palace’s Speroni from Geijo’s shot
Zaha still looking dangerous.
Watford start brightly with an attack. Palace defender Delaney having a good match- a good block on the edge of the box from Abdi’s shot.
4.04 pm Second half
Crystal Palace players out early to do pre-second half warm-up. Vidra is off. Geijo is the Watford substitute. Second half kicks off. Palace kicking towards their own fans. Equal in number of fans. Equal in terms of lacking goals.
Half time sound report from Wembley stadium
Crystal Palace 0 Watford 0 Half-time whistle. 3 minutes added time played. Zaha had the last piece of attacking play.
0-0 No shots on target. Neither keeper has had to make a save. Exciting attacking and opening play at both ends. Another Watford corner. Vydra has been having trouble with his ankle and motioning to be taken off. This could be a blow for Watford as he is the North London’s team’s leading scorer but he remains on the pitch. Zola might want to see if treatment during half time can keep him in the match.
Zaha back on the attack. Action now in Watford penalty area. Substitute Stuart O’Keefe settled in well.
Crystal Palace FC Twitter: “Boos ring round as Elton John is pictured on the big screen. Quickly turns to cheers for Eddie Izzard and Jo Brand.”
Watford “on the ascendancy.” Palace not getting the ball to Zaha. Still 0-0.
Watford playing better and have control of the match. Palace defending. Watford are getting the corners.
Booking for Palace captain and player of the year Jedinak after a foul on Abdi. Watford attack. Palace defend well.
Crystal Palace dominating. Zaha clearly the real threat. Watford manager Gianfranco Zola (wearing a jumper in this heat?) looking worried. Ian Holloway has taken his jacket off.
Two exciting attacking raids by Zaha. Man of the match so far?
Dikgacoi injured and leaves pitch distraught. Known as “KG” he hobbles off, refuses to use stretcher. Calf injury. Stuart O’Keefe on in his place as first substitute.
0-0 First corner to Watford. Palace defend well. Crystal Palace containing Watford. Seems they plan to play to Zaha whenever they can.
Early booking for Watford player Ekstrand for mis-timed tackle on Wilbraham.
Zaha makes his first attack on Watford goal. Looks dangerous. Watford are wary of him and foul him shortly afterwards.
Watford have most of the possession, but Palace defending well in midfield and at the back.
0-0- Nervous first five minutes for both teams. Fans from both ends create huge roar.
A dozen balloons that blew onto the pitch have delayed play, while Palace players burst them. So that sea of red and blue balloons that was promised has lapped onto the field!
Watford kick off to begin the match. Rousing chorus of God Save the Queen from a packed Wembley beforehand.
90,000 sell-out at Wembley, over 33,000 Palace supporters- the noise is terrific. Minutes to go.
With minutes to go to the time referee Martin Atkinson blows his whistle to begin the 2013 Championship play-off final here is an interview with Palace fan David, 48, from Sidcup.
Twenty minutes to go to kick-off. This play-off trophy is worth more than £120 million to the winning club. Is it no wonder the FA and League Cups are losing their value and importance?
With mascots like these, Palace can win anything!
Pete & Alice Eagle from CPFC Twitter feed
Palace subs: Price, Richards, Ramage, Bolasie, Phillips, O’Keefe, Moritz
Palace line-up announced: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Garvan, Williams, Zaha, Wilbraham.
Watford team selection is: Almunia; Doyley, Ekstrand, Cassetti; Anya, Chalobah, Hogg, Abdi, Pudil; Deeney, Vydra
Official npower Championship team-sheets released by Twitter
First fan in just after 1 pm appears to be a Palace supporter. Good sign!
Most of the media reporters present are focusing on the fact that this match is worth at least £120 million to the winner because of the increase in negotiated television rights for the Premiership. The prize includes, of course, visits to Old Trafford, The Emirates, The Etihad, and Anfield. To the loser visits to Yeovil Town and Doncaster. Quite a contrast.
CPFC Twitter feed reporting Wembley Way filling with Palace supporters.
Live television coverage is provided by Sky Sports 1 (U.K.), beIN Sport (U.S.)
Live radio coverage and commentaries on BBC Five Live from 3 pm.
And if you want to feel at home online follow the Eagles’ own live club coverage on the official CPFC website.
Predictions appear to be evenly split amongst neutrals anyway. Pitch looks in pristine condition.
The Palace players’ boots are lined up in the changing room at Wembley and their kits line the walls.
11.14 am Wonderful weather today and most Palace fans are on their way to Wembley. The Holmsdale.Net Palace Supporters’ site on its match preview written yesterday reported that: “Crystal Palace have no new injury problems with Aaron Wilbraham again leading the line with top scorer Glenn Murray recovering from a knee operation. Wilfried Zaha will be making his last appearance in a Palace shirt.” Useful Twitter feeds today: @Official_CPFC @npower_Champ @holmesdale Palace supporters bus left around 10.26 am
33,000 Crystal Palace fans travel to the new Wembley stadium Monday May 27 to cheer their famous south London club into making history and beating Watford in the Championship play-off final to secure a lucrative and coveted place in the Premiership for the 2013-14 season.
As an East London Lines reporter I shall be going to the game as a supporter so will be making tweets and multimedia reports as a life-long fan with about as much bias as Winnie the Pooh and his views on honey.
I hope to be tweeting @Chucklesmcg
If the excitement of the match is too great for tweeting, I will attend to the reporting as much as I can.
Crystal Palace reached fifth position this season and under Ian Holloway, who took over as manager in November last year, beat bitter rivals Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 over two legs in the semi-finals.
They face Gianfranco Zola’s Watford and kick-off is at 3 pm.
Holloway is no stranger to both success and disappointment in Championship play-off finals.
That’s how he got Blackpool into the top flight in 2010 in a nail-biting 3-2 win over Cardiff City. Last season the Tangerines, still under the 50 year old Bristolian, lost 2-1 to West Ham.
He told www.cpfc.co.uk: “You can never tell how anybody is going to react to walking out at Wembley. But you can do certain things and implement them to make sure the lads are accustomed to it and get used to it and see it before the day we go to play there. I think that makes a huge difference so we’ll be doing that.”
“The most important thing is the performance. It’s a wonderful day for everybody, but we have to perform. We hold everybody’s hopes and dreams in our hands so we have to make sure we perform. I’ve luckily done this a few times and I think we’ve adopted the way we did it before [at Blackpool] and I think it will work,” he said.
In the wins stakes the two London teams have shared 88 matches in their history when there has been victory and defeat. Palace are ahead with 44 wins.
Palace are without top goalscorer Glenn Murray, out through injury, but they do have much admired striker Wilfried Zaha playing his last game for the club before returning to Man United who signed him for £15 million at the beginning of the year.
The club’s inspirational Australian midfielder skipper and player of the season Mile Jedinak said: “Both teams won their respective semi-finals in dramatic fashion and it’s going to be evenly poised.”
“If we’re going in as underdogs then so be it, but in my mind it’s 50-50. We’ve got a plan we will be working on and hopefully we can execute it the way we did at Brighton,” he said.
Palace have the leading record for success in end of season play-off Championship competition. They gained promotion this way in 1989, 1997 and 2004.
If scores are level after 90 minutes, extra time will be played and then followed, if necessary, by penalty kicks to decide the winner.
For advice on Wembley rules, pubs, transport issues visit the club website page on “the match- all you need to know.”