A single goal for Wilfried Zaha means double cup disappointment for Stoke City, but gives Alan Pardew hope of “third time lucky” in an FA Cup final.
The Crystal Palace manager lost in the final as a player with his current club in 1990 and as a manager with West Ham in 2006. His side now find themselves in the fifth round after knocking out two Premier League clubs. Some around Selhurst Park maintain Pardew has been told the FA Cup should be a “priority” this campaign; Palace certainly played like it yesterday, and could have won by much more than Zaha’s fine 17th-minute strike.
Stoke enjoyed a few good passages of play and a big late chance for Joselu, but didn’t do too much otherwise. Their manager, Mark Hughes, felt they had found it difficult to raise their game after losing their League Cup semi-final on penalties to Liverpool on Tuesday night.
“It’s been a hard week to take,” said Hughes, who also faces losing Marc Wilson for 10 to 12 weeks with suspected ligament damage. “We don’t want to go out of two competitions. We were a bit stretched today, to be perfectly honest.”
Palace used their pace on the break well, and the goal came after Zaha spun away from his marker after receiving a pass from Yohan Cabaye before slotting the ball past Jakob Haugaard. Zaha was allowed to roam free and was involved in most of Palace’s attacks as they enjoyed their first win in all competitions since the third round of the Cup, against Southampton.
“Lesser teams than the quality I have here have won this competition in recent years,” Pardew said. “We’ve got the talent to win it; I’m an eternal optimist. You do need a break here and there, and to play well.” Palace undeniably did so yesterday.
Crystal Palace: (4-2-3-1) Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souaré; Cabaye (Jedinak, h-t), Ledley (Mutch, h-t); Zaha, Puncheon, Lee; Campbell (Chamakh, 80).
Stoke: (4-2-3-1) Haugaard; Bardsley, Wollscheid, Wilson, Pieters; Van Ginkel, Ireland; Odemwingie (Crouch, 74), Bojan (Diouf, 74), Shaqiri; Joselu.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg.
Man of the match: Wilfried Zaha (Palace)
Match rating: 6/10