The FA Cup
Crystal PalaceCrystal Palace2WatfordWatford1

Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford

By Neil JohnstonBBC Sport
Highlights: Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford

Crystal Palace will meet Manchester United in the FA Cup final on 21 May after a hard-fought win over Watford.

Yannick Bolasie headed Palace ahead at Wembley when Damien Delaney flicked on Yohan Cabaye's early corner.

Watford, who lost midfielder Etienne Capoue to injury early in the semi-final, levelled when Troy Deeney nodded home Jose Manuel Jurado's corner.

Palace sealed a first FA Cup final appearance for 26 years when Connor Wickham met Pape Souare's cross.

Next month's final is a repeat of the 1990 showcase when Palace and United were involved in a thrilling 3-3 draw before the Red Devils ran out 1-0 winners in the replay.

Relive Palace's victory over Watford at Wembley

Pardew gets his tactics spot on

Palace manager Alan Pardew greeted the final whistle by punching the air in celebration after a well deserved win which justified his decision to rest several first-team players in the 2-0 defeat at Manchester United.

Few Palace fans could have dreamt their team would reach an FA Cup final when Pardew took charge 15 months ago with the Eagles in the Premier League relegation zone.

Crystal Palace v Watford
Crystal Palace have defeated four Premier League teams to reach the final - Southampton, Stoke, Tottenham and Watford

He triggered a revival and secured a top-10 finish last season and has now steered them to within one win of major silverware.

Palace carved out the better chances - Bolasie's power and Wilfried Zaha's boundless energy putting Watford's over-worked defence under pressure.

At the other end, Palace produced a resolute and stubborn defensive performance.

In the first half Damien Delaney collapsed to the ground after taking the full brunt of Jurado's powerful shot. It was typical of their bodies-on-the-line attitude.

From unused sub to Wembley hero

The previous time Palace played at Wembley, Bolasie did not make it onto the pitch as his side beat Watford in the 2013 Championship play-off final.

On Sunday, the 26-year-old, who was playing non-league for Rushden & Diamonds seven and a half years ago, made up for lost time at the national stadium.

Crystal Palace score against Watford
Winning the FA Cup secures a place in the group stage of the Europa League

Watford's defenders struggled to deal with his pace - Miguel Britos fortunate to escape after Bolasie skipped past him only for Costel Pantilimon to make an excellent save.

Bolasie has now scored in his last two games for his club after failing to score in the previous 12.

What now for Quique Sanchez Flores?

Watford had knocked out holders Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in the quarter-finals yet this was one hurdle too many for Quique Sanchez Flores' side.

They allowed Palace to score their quickest goal of the season, poor marking letting in Bolasie to head home from almost point-blank range.

Deeney had been fed a diet of scraps before getting the better of Scott Dann to level from another corner.

Watford were FA Cup finalists in 1984

Yet Watford were on level terms for just six minutes as Wickham proved too much for Nathan Ake to place Souare's delicious cross beyond the reach of Pantilimon.

Watford will point to the 29th minute loss of Capoue, who was distraught as he was carried off on a stretcher after tangling with Bolasie. However, they managed just two shots on target in front of owner Gino Pozzo.

Flores has done a fine job keeping Watford out of relegation trouble yet the Spaniard's job is reportedly under threatexternal-link after three league wins in 2016.

This performance is unlikely to do little to quash the speculation about his future.

Man of the match - Yannick Bolasie

Yannick Bolasie
Palace produced a hard-working performance - dangerous going forward and well organised at the back. Bolasie, a real threat, edges it after demonstrating the leadership his team required from him.

What they said

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew: "We've let the fans down a little bit at home games this year but today we had out strongest team and it showed.

"I've only played that team about eight times and the team was in total control of this game in my opinion.

"We talked at half-time about the Everton game yesterday that it changed and we needed to go up a level. Ironically Watford had five or 10 minutes where they bossed the game.

Palace had total control - Pardew

"But to boss the game for 80 minutes, which I think we did, is a tribute to the players.

Palace winger Yannick Bolasie, speaking to Palace TV: "Obviously I'm delighted for myself, but more importantly I'm delighted for us as a team - I think we deserved nothing less.

"For the fans especially, the way this season's been a bit of a rollercoaster, it's great to get into the final. A lovely thing for our manager as well, because he's stuck with us and all of our players."

Palace forward Connor Wickham, speaking to Palace TV: "It's one of them one-in-a-lifetime occasions that you can't put into words.

"I think the goal that they got was my fault, so I felt like I owed it to the team. My header was well placed and the keeper couldn't get it and that got us back in front."

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores: "Everyone is disappointed but we need to be realistic. No one expected us to be in the semi-final.

Watford have reasons to be happy - Flores

"When we started the season the main target was to stay in the Premier League. That's the most important thing for Watford. We need reasons to be happy, to be positive. I don't see why we have to be negative.

"We were competitive and created chances. But we did not expect to concede with the first play. But Crystal Palace have a great team and a great manager, and congratulations to them."

The stats you need to know

  • Watford have won only two of their last 13 meetings with Palace in all competitions.
  • The South London club have won four of their last five visits to Wembley, with two of those victories coming against the Hornets.
  • Troy Deeney has scored all three of Watford's goals against Crystal Palace this season in all competitions, including two in Watford's 2-1 win at Selhurst Park in the Premier League in February.
  • Connor Wickham netted his first FA Cup goal since playing for Sunderland in the FA Cup third round against Bolton in January 2013.
  • Watford have fallen short in five of their six FA Cup semi-finals, including each of the last four, with their only win coming in 1984 against Plymouth.
  • Pape Souare registered his first assist since August 2015 in all competitions for Palace.
  • Alan Pardew played in Crystal Palace's only previous FA Cup final games, against Manchester United back in 1990.

What's next?

Pardew returns to Newcastle United next Saturday (15:00 BST) with his Palace side looking to deliver a blow to his old club's chances of staying up.

Watford host relegated Aston Villa on the same day (15:00 BST) looking for a first top-flight home win since 23 January.


Crystal Palace

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 13Hennessey
  • 2Ward
  • 6DannBooked at 54mins
  • 27Delaney
  • 23Souaré
  • 15Jedinak
  • 7Cabaye
  • 11Zaha
  • 10BolasieSubstituted forMcArthurat 74'minutes
  • 42PuncheonSubstituted forSakoat 81'minutes
  • 21WickhamSubstituted forAdebayorat 86'minutes


  • 1Speroni
  • 16Gayle
  • 18McArthur
  • 25Adebayor
  • 26Sako
  • 28Ledley
  • 34Kelly


Formation 4-4-2

  • 18Pantilimon
  • 2NyomSubstituted forAnyaat 82'minutes
  • 15Cathcart
  • 3Britos
  • 16Aké
  • 22AbdiSubstituted forGuédiouraat 55'minutes
  • 29CapoueSubstituted forSuárezat 32'minutesBooked at 79mins
  • 23Watson
  • 7JuradoBooked at 38mins
  • 24Ighalo
  • 9DeeneyBooked at 89mins


  • 1Gomes
  • 4Suárez
  • 5Prödl
  • 8Behrami
  • 17Guédioura
  • 20Berghuis
  • 21Anya
Craig Pawson

Match Stats

Home TeamCrystal PalaceAway TeamWatford
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Crystal Palace 2, Watford 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 2, Watford 1.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Mario Suárez (Watford).

  4. Post update

    Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  5. Post update

    Attempt missed. Adlène Guédioura (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jurado.

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Adlène Guédioura (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

  7. Booking

    Troy Deeney (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Troy Deeney (Watford).

  9. Post update

    Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Troy Deeney (Watford).

  11. Post update

    Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  12. Post update

    Attempt missed. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Emmanuel Adebayor.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Crystal Palace. Emmanuel Adebayor replaces Connor Wickham.

  14. Post update

    Offside, Crystal Palace. Wayne Hennessey tries a through ball, but Wilfried Zaha is caught offside.

  15. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jurado (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ikechi Anya with a headed pass.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Watford. Conceded by Damien Delaney.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Watford. Ikechi Anya replaces Nyom.

  18. Post update

    Attempt missed. Odion Ighalo (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Troy Deeney with a headed pass.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Crystal Palace. Bakary Sako replaces Jason Puncheon.

  20. Booking

    Mario Suárez (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

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