Crystal Palace youngster Wilf Zaha starred for the Eagles as they knocked Manchester Utd out of the Carling Cup last night.
An extra-time winner from Glenn Murray saw Palace into the semi-final at the expense of their more illustrious opponents after Darren Ambrose’s 35-yard thunderbolt had been cancelled out by a Federico Macheda penalty during normal time.
Before the game much was made about United’s promising crop of young players but Sir Alex Ferguson resisted the temptation to start with any of them. Despite making 10 changes to the side that drew with Newcastle on Saturday, The Premier League Champions still included nine full internationals in their line-up.
However they were undone by a purposeful Palace outfit who started with energy and vigour, with Zaha’s industry and skill epitomising their evening’s work.
The Ivory Coast-born winger fired over as early as the first minute and was a constant threat for Palace down the right.
After a rather forgettable first 45 minutes the game came to life in the 65th minute when Darren Ambrose opened the scoring with a stunning strike from mid-way inside the United half.
Palace’s lead lasted less than five minutes though as Patrick McCarthy pulled Macheda to the ground and the Italian sent goalkeeper Lewis Price the wrong way from the spot.
With the hosts now dominating possession but lacking ideas going forward the game drifted into extra-time.
And eight minutes into the first period Palace’s fortitude got it’s just deserves when Glenn Murray lost Jonny Evans to nod home Darren Ambrose’s free-kick from close range.
The goal was the cue for a United onslaught but Palace defended heroically to book a semi-final date with Cardiff City and ensure that The Football League have one of its member clubs in the Wembley final.
Eagles boss Dougie Freedman was understandably delighted with the victory;
“I am extremely proud of this bunch of young professionals who gave everything, putting their bodies on the line in terms of desire and hunger to keep on going.”
“They all showed a fantastic attitude to get the result and I am so proud of them.”
“We were unfortunate with injuries losing Dean Moxey and Sean Scannell which upset things for us for a while but as the game went on the two lads that came on helped make the team look fitter and stronger and helped produce a good squad performance tonight.”