Wednesday 18 July 2018

Palace plot way to final as history repeats itself

Crystal Palace 2 Watford 1

Crystal Palace's Connor Wickham celebrates scoring their second goal. Photo: Eddie Keogh/ Reuters
Crystal Palace's Connor Wickham celebrates scoring their second goal. Photo: Eddie Keogh/ Reuters
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha and Watford's Miguel Britos. Photo: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Tom Sheen

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew will hope that history doesn't repeat itself in the FA Cup final - even though he admitted it did so in the semi-final win over Watford.

Pardew was a Palace player when the club last reached the showpiece in 1990, also against Manchester United. Now, 26 years later, and manager Pardew will again face United in the FA Cup final.

His hair had been blonde rather than the grey when he nodded home an extra-time winner against Liverpool for Steve Coppell's team to reach the old Wembley Stadium, and Pardew admitted his former manager had a part to play in their victory yesterday.

Palace scored a near-identical goal to his after just six minutes against the Hornets - Yannick Bolasie heading home from close-range after Damien Delaney's near-post flick.

"The 1990 semi got a couple of mentions in the build-up," Pardew admitted after the 2-1 win. "We did pay homage to that with the flicked-on corner - sometimes history does repeat itself. It was a well-taken goal, Steve Coppell can take some credit for it."

Troy Deeney sparked a tense semi-final into life when he headed Watford's equaliser nine minutes after half-time, but they were only level for seven minutes.

Connor Wickham stretched to meet a cross from Pape Souare and his header flew beyond the reach of flat-footed Watford goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, who was slow to react.

Pardew added: "I thought the team were very focused. We had a game plan that the players carried out to the letter. It's all good talking about the psychology of it - playing the game and not the occasion - but we still had to do it and the players were brilliant, there were some outstanding performances."

Asked if there was some destiny about the rematch, he said: "I hope the destiny isn't the same result.

"This is a different team, but there are some similar characteristics. Manchester United will have a difficult game in the final."

His opposite number Quique Sanchez Flores lamented his team's terrible start but was impressed with the way they reacted. The Spaniard said he had also been left confused about reports linking him with a move away from Watford at the end of the season.

"We were not expecting to concede from a set-piece in first five minutes. One player forgot to mark, but that's football," he said. "In the second half, we played with more spirit - but congratulations to Crystal Palace."

On his future, he said: "I don't understand what happened this week, talking about the coach ahead of a semi-final. It's time to talk about players, club, fans - not time to talk about the manager. I don't understand.

"People are working with me, on my side. I am sad [about the speculation] during the week, I don't understand the need to talk about me. We are happy as a squad - me, everyone. The future of Watford is safe."

Irish Independent

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