Late double sends Palace into Emirates FA Cup semi-finals

Friday 11 Mar 2016
Yohan Cabaye breaks the deadlock five minutes from time

Crystal Palace scored twice in the final stages to knock out second-tier Reading and secure a place in the semi-finals of The Emirates FA Cup.

Yohan Cabaye broke the deadlock with an 85th-minute penalty before substitute Frazier Campbell added the second, a close-range tap in, with seconds to go.

Reading 0-2 Crystal Palace

Emirates FA Cup
Madejski Stadium
Friday 11 March 2016
Winning sides receive £450,000 from The FA prize fund

The game hinged on award of the spot kick, with Jake Cooper sent off for fatally pulling back Yannick Bolasie.

Cabaye accepted the gift with glee to effectively give the Eagles their ticket to Wembley.

It was Cooper’s second booking of a pulsating night and ref Mike Dean had no choice but to dismiss the Reading defender.

Former Royals boss Alan Pardew is having no luck in the Premier League with Palace but that barren run showed no danger of crossing over into the FA Cup.

Soon after Cabaye struck, Bolasie rattled the woodwork with a 20-yard firecracker before Campbell mopped things up just seconds after his introduction.

Reading, the lowest-placed side left in the competition, were often tottering but hung on longer than they might.

Never more so than at the start of the second half when Eagles’ playmaker captain Mile Jedinak twice came within a whisker of beating the excellent Ali Al Habsi.

First the Reading keeper took off to swipe away a pin-pointed header and then watched Chris Gunter boot another Jedinak header off the line.

And when Al Habsi astounded the Madejski by leaping to turn away Cabaye’s 69th-minute stinging, swerving free kick everyone suspected this was to be Palace’s night.

Reading, semi-finalists a year ago, had their moments, too, with Stephen Quinn bringing the best out of visiting stopper Wayne Hennessy when put clean through, and again when twinkle-toed Ola John met Hal Robson-Kanu’s cross with a great headed effort.

Palace bossed the first half which, on many an occasion, had all the makings of a stepover dance competition between Wilfried Zaha and John as they bamboozled their opposing full backs almost at will.

Both sides had plenty of scope to score, but missed gilt-edged chances. Joe Ledley scooped over from six yards seconds before the break after Al Habsi had clawed away Bolasie’s fiercesome shot.

A minute before, John, who also had a goalbound drive deflected, wastefully hit the side netting when Palace stopper Wayne Hennessy dropped Robson-Kanu’s centre.

If play was end to end there was always the suspicion that Palace were the more likely to break the deadlock.

Zaha, combining nicely with Bolasie in the 24th minute, brought the best out of Al Habsi, who then expertly kept out Cabaye’s measured set piece.

Then Bolashie sent a screamer into the side netting before Michael Hector saved Reading by blocking a 31st-minute Ledley drive. 

Happily for the Royals, the busy Al Habsi picked off Emmanuel Adebayor’s 15-yarder when Jedinak set him up.

Reading hung on, Oliver Norwood forcing a decent save from Hennessy to thwart a promising downward header to remind the Premier Leaguers they were still in the game – until Cooper's late dismissal, that is.

Reading (4-4-2): Ali Al Habsi; Chris Gunter, Paul McShane, Jake Cooper, Jordan Obita; Hal Robson-Kanu, Oliver Norwood, Michael Hector, Stephen Quinn; Ola John, Simon Cox.

Substitutes: Matej Vydra for Cox on 66; Danny Williams for Norwood on 75; Deniss Rakels for Obita on 89

Subs not used: Jonathan Bond, Garath McCleary, Anton Ferdinand, Lucas Piazon 

Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Wayne Hennessey; Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney, Pape Souare; Mile Jedinak, Joe Ledley; Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye, Yannick Bolasie; Emmanuel Adebayor.

Substitutes: Bakary Sako for Ledley on 79; Frazier Campbell for Bolasie on 89

Subs not used: Alex McCarthy, Dwight Gayle, Jordon Mutch, Martin Kelly, Jason Puncheon

Goals: Cabaye (pen) 79; Campbell 90

Referee: Mike Dean

Attendance: 23,110

By Geoff Sweet Reporter At Madejski Stadium