Crystal Palace earns promotion to Premier League

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Updated: May 27, 2013

phillips

Crystal Palace earned promotion to the Premier League in dramatic fashion on Monday as Kevin Phillips’ penalty strike in extra time lifted the club to a 1-0 win over Watford in the Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium.

It was an up and down affair for the duration of normal time as Palace put 10 shots on frame and Watford put four on target. But it was a battle of goalkeeping between Palace’s Julian Speroni and Watford’s Manuel Almunia as the clubs headed into extra time level at 0-0.

The teams continued to battle into extra time and the tide turned in favor of Palace in the 105th minute when forward Wilfried Zaha, who will join Manchester United in July, worked his way past his defender into the Hornets’ penalty area and was tripped up by Watford’s Marco Cassetti and the referee immediately pointed to the spot, awarding Palace a potentially season-altering penalty kick.

Phillips, on loan from Blackpool, stepped up and calmly ripped it into the roof of the net for his 250th career league goal and a 1-0 lead for Palace.

Watford pushed forward in the remaining minutes of extra time and had one final glorious chances with only seconds left on the clock when Fernando Forestieri weaved his way into the Palace penalty area and smacked a left- footed strike that looked to be earmarked for the top left corner, but Palace defender Joe Ward came to the rescue as he headed the ball off the line.

Watford then had one last corner kick but it was cleared away and Palace hung on for the victory to return to the Premier League for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Watford, meanwhile, will remain in the Championship and has not seen top- flight football since the 2006-07 campaign.