Brighton 0-2 C Palace (agg 0-2)
Last updated on .From the section Football
Wilfried Zaha scored both goals as Crystal Palace beat arch-rivals Brighton to set up a Championship play-off final date with Watford.
Ashley Barnes had Brighton's best two chances moments after coming on, having one effort saved onto the bar and another cleared off the line.
Manchester United-bound Zaha struck with 21 minutes left with a stooping header from Yannick Bolasie's cross.
And he sealed it with a late strike into the roof of the net.
The final against Watford is at Wembley on Monday, 27 May.
England international Zaha, 20, was Sir Alex Ferguson's final signing as Manchester United boss in January but was allowed to end the season on loan at Palace, a decision which could prove the difference between another season in the second tier and a return to the Premier League after eight years away.
The teams drew the first leg 0-0 at Selhurst Park, making the second leg a winner-takes-all showdown at the Amex Stadium.
Brighton came into the game with all the form - they were unbeaten in 10, while Palace's late collapse, which saw them go nine games without a win until the final day, almost saw them miss out on the play-offs.
In fact the Seagulls had won the corresponding league fixture 3-0 in March. The omens looked even more against the Eagles when 30-goal top scorer Glenn Murray suffered a serious knee injury in the first game and was ruled out of the second leg.
His replacement, Aaron Wilbraham, had only scored one goal in 25 league games this season but had the first chance, poking the ball wide from six yards out.
The first half was a cagey affair with defences on top but after the break the game started to open up.
Zaha was lively throughout on the left wing and caused right-back Inigo Calderon all kinds of problems, and he set up the first major chance of the game, his brilliant through-ball putting Jonathan Williams in on goal but the young Wales international fired just wide.
Seagulls manager Gus Poyet, trying to help his side return to the top flight after a 30-year absence, made a substitution after 64 minutes, bringing Barnes on for Andrea Orlandi.
And it almost paid immediate dividends. The forward's first touch was on target with Julian Speroni deflecting the ball onto the crossbar and from the resulting corner his header was cleared off the line by Dean Moxey.
With that, Brighton's chance to win the game had gone as five minutes later, substitute Bolasie's brilliant left-wing cross was headed home by Zaha, who had snuck in behind Wayne Bridge to convert.
And as the home side pushed for a leveller, Zaha sent the Eagles to Wembley as he received another Bolasie pass, before turning Gordon Greer to fire home from 12 yards out.
As for the size of the crowd and them leaving on 88 mins, the withdean held 7,000 and was the worst ground in Eng. A new ground and better experience draws in a bigger audience, no surprise. Anyone who has tried to get out of the Amex on FT will understand why people were leaving on 88.
Again revealed tonight. Could not change or adapt to Palaces play. Holloway worked his team well and they looked comfortable. With all of Palaces injuries this season showed their quality tonight. Hope you win the final. Millwall fan.
How many facts can you get wrong in a single post? Zaha has never been "Palace's goalscorer". For example, I think that you'll find a Mr Murray has chalk a few dozen more this season. Palace IS a well run club now, as indeed are Brighton. As for the size of their fan base, you have got to be having a laugh...
I said earlier on that Brighton play nice, neat football but don't get too carried away. More flair than the whole PL? You're more like a lightweight Wigan. You're on the right road, but you haven't got anywhere near your destination yet.
I understand that, but we have a multi-billionaire owner and a manager capable of managing at the very, very highest level.
We have all our ducks in a row and should we keep Gus and our best players, we'll go up, stay up and be very competitive.
Football wise, we're far more 'continental' and have more flair than probably the whole PL, so staying there would be only natural.
Has your alarm gone off yet, now you can wake up & stop dreaming.
(only Arsenal compare in style.)..... What not Man U, Chelsea or Man City ?
You didn't look that stylish over the 2 legs against Palace. So its a good job you do have plenty of funding coz you will need a whole new squad before you even think about Europe.