Crystal Palace have won promotion to the Premier League after defeating Watford in a tight and cagey play-off final at Wembley.
Kevin Phillips, who used to play for Watford, scored the winner from the penalty spot, after the game had been forced to go to extra time.
Phillips scored the goal in the 105th minute after Wilfried Zaha, who has played for Crystal Palace since the age of nine and his set to move to Manchester United in the summer, was fouled by Marco Cassetti.
The match, which is worth around $200 million to the victor in sponsorship and television revenue, was a tense encounter and there weren’t many chances created by either side.
Watford, who finished third in the league table and were only not promoted thanks to a last minute blunder by their third choice goalkeeper, were slight favorites going into the match, but never looked settled and had to rely on their goalkeeper, Manuel Almunia, to keep them level.
After Phillips scored, Watford then created a series of late chances, with Almen Abdi missing when well placed, and Fernando Forestieri saw his header cleared off the line by Joel Ward with only seconds left.
Talking after the game, Gianfranco Zola, the Watford manager, admitted that Palace deserved their victory, stating, “They played well and probably deserved it more than us, so congratulations to them. It is tough for me and tough for all connected to Watford. It hasn’t been our best game but to lose to an extra-time penalty is hard to take.”
Zola then added, “To be playing here was a big bonus for us, it wasn’t expected. Next year we are determined to be stronger and we will be stronger. It has been remarkable. We had a lot of fun this year.”