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Published: 17:58 | 24/4/16

Wickham soars to book Eagles final place

Palace deservedly beat under-par Watford

Crystal Palace have booked their place in the FA Cup final as they beat Watford 2-1 in the second semi-final at Wembley.

A Connor Wickham header just after the hour-mark won the game for Alan Pardew’s side who fully deserved their victory.

An early Yannick Bolasie goal had put the Eagles ahead as Watford struggled to cope with the pace of Palace’s attack.

Quiche Sanchez Flores’ side crept back into the game and they were level on 55 minutes when Troy Deeney headed home a Ben Watson cross.

The lead was restored minutes later courtesy of Wickham’s header and the Hornets didn’t look capable of responding a second time meaning Palace will now face Manchester United in a repeat of the 1990 final.

Palace swarmed forward early on and they took the lead on six minutes when Yohan Cabaye's corner was flicked on at the near post by Damien Delaney and headed home at the back post by Bolasie.

Watford gradually came into the game and they went close on 19 minutes when after Almen Abdi’s low shot was blocked, Nyon’s cross was ducked by Scott Dann and the ball bounced off the unsuspecting Delaney, going just past the post.

Palace remained a threat going forward and Cabaye drew a fine diving save from Costel Pantilimon with his curled effort.

Watford suffered a blow on the half-hour mark when Etienne Capoue was withdrawn after receiving a blow to his knee and their woes might have been added to when Wilfried Zaha’s cross hit the hand of Nathan Ake but referee Craig Pawson waved play on.

The Eagles had another big shout for a penalty when Miguel Britos hacked down Wickham in the box but the referee was unmoved.

Palace threatened to take a stranglehold on the game as Bolasie drove into the box before letting fly from 10 yards but Pantilimon did well to divert the ball over the bar.

However, Watford were level within 10 minutes of the restart, Deeney glancing a lovely header from Watson’s set-piece past Wayne Hennessy.

Parity only lasted six minutes though as Wickham restored Palace’s lead when he rose higher than Ake to guide home Pape Souare’s cross.

Watford were rocked and they struggled to rise to the task of finding another equaliser, indeed the game could have been ended as a contest with 12 minutes remaining when Zaha beat two men on his way into the penalty box with the ball falling to Wickham but the forward’s effort from 10 yards was blocked.

Idion Igahlo then had a chance to square the game again as he was released in the box but the Watford man blazed over the bar from a tight angle.

Despite their best efforts Watford were unable to carve out any decent chances with Adlene Guedioura’s scuffed effort the nearest they came to denying Palace their place in the final.

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