Brighton 0 Crystal Palace 2 match report: Wilfried Zaha double puts Ian Holloway back on road to Wembley

 

The Amex Stadium

Sir Alex Ferguson may have retired, but on Monday night he once more proved himself a good judge of a footballer when his final signing, Wilfried Zaha scored the two goals that took Crystal palace into the Championship play-off final against Watford at Wembley on May 27.

Ferguson paid Palace £15 million for Zaha in January before loaning the winger back to the South London club, and will no doubt have permitted himself a smile as Zaha's two late strikes not only ensured that his farewell game for Palace will be in the fixture termed the most valuable in football, worth an estimated £120 million to the winners, but also ended the season of their fiercest rivals.

“I've played for Palace for ten years so this is the perfect way to cap it,” Zaha, 20, said. “I just wanted to finish one of my last games for the club in a strong way and getting two goals is a dream."

Ian Holloway, the Palace manager, will manage in the play-off final for the third time in four seasons. He led Blackpool to the Premier League with victory over Cardiff City in 2010 but he and the Tangerines came up short against West Ham last season. Now he tries a third time with Palace despite a run of one win from eleven games before last night.

“We learned so much from that terrible run we had,” Holloway said. “We've come to the hardest place ever and have shown all sorts of strength of character. Did I doubt my lads? No, I didn't. Did I doubt myself? No. Other people did. [Zaha] will be a match winner at the top, top, top level but I thought he wanted to keep playing well for us, and he did today. ”

Gustavo Poyet, the Brighton manager, who is always linked with every vacant Premier League management job, was downcast and suggested that he will be seeking assurances from Tony Bloom, the Brighton owner, about the level of ambition at the Amex Stadium after failing to take the team up to the top flight despite what he agreed had been 'a fantastic season'.

He said: “I don't like this feeling. I always said that I'll be at the football club while we keep improving. But today it feels like we've hit the roof. I want us to get better, and as a manager I want to get better. Right now, I don't know. I'm under contract, but we'll see.”

Palace pressed Brighton relentlessly, seldom allowing them to play their normal controlled passing game. Even so, the home side made chances, but Julian Speroni pushed aside a shot from Will Buckley and Danny Gabbidon deflected David Lopez' curling shot over his own crossbar. Palace also looked dangerous on the break and should have scored two minutes after half time when Zaha sent Jonathan Williams in on goal only for the Welshman to slip his shot wide.

Palace nearly paid dearly when Brighton's 64th-minute substitute Ashley Barnes twice went close. But Speroni deflected his left-foot shot onto the crossbar, then Dean Moxey nodded his close-range header off the goalline and within seconds Palace made the breakthrough. After 68 minutes Zaha dived to head in Yannick Bolasie's left-wing cross and two minutes from time he took Kagisho Dikgacoi's pass, turned Brighton captain Gordon Greer and lashed the ball in off the crossbar.

“We were technically poor, we made too many mistakes,” Poyet said. “The adrenalin made us play a bit quickly, trying to do everything in two minutes and not play our normal game. But if Ash's shot goes in we are talking about a different game. Those are the margins.”

Brighton & Hove Albion (4-1-2-3): Kuszczak; Calderon (LuaLua, 72), Greer, Upson, Bridge; Bridcutt; Lopez, Hammond; Buckley, Ulloa, Orlandi (Barnes, 64). Substitutes not used Brezovan, El-Abd, Crofts, Dicker, Painter

Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Speroni; Ward, Delaney, Gabbidon, Moxey; Dikgacoi, Jedinak; Williams (Bolasie, 62), Garvan (Moritz, 62), Zaha (O’Keefe, 90); Wilbraham Substitutes not used Price, Richards, Phillips, Ramage,

Referee M Clattenburg (Co Durham).

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk