In a game that represents at minimum a £90 millions pound ($120 million dollar) windfall over the next two years, Crystal Palace defeated Watford 1-0 in extra time with the winning goal in the Final of the Championship Promotion Playoff.
The winning goal was scored by the ageless Kevin Phillips. Crystal Palace joins Cardiff City and Hull as the third team being promoted to play in the Premier League for the 2013-14 season.
Crystal Palace last played in the Premier League during the 2004-05 season, and this most recent promotion represents the fourth time that the club will be playing in England’s top football (soccer) league. For a club that was one of the original participants in the first season of the Premier League, playing in the top flight holds a special place in its history.
As for the final, Crystal Palace found themselves the better side on the day, as it did a good job of pinning Watford deep in it’s own zone, especially in the second half which saw Crystal Palace press the action more. Wilfred Zaha, who will be moving on to play for Manchester United, was the most dangerous player on the field as his runs from the right wing position were the source of much of Crystal Palace’s best scoring opportunities.
In extra time, Crystal Palace saw their efforts pay off as Zaha was brought in the penalty area, with Kevin Phillips scoring on the penalty.
Crystal Palace started the 2012-13 Championship season in a bit of turmoil as the club was still smarting from having avoided relegation from the Championship the previous season. The hire of Ian Holloway to manage the team has turned out to be the best thing that happened to the club.
Holloway has provided much-needed stability the club, and has once again been successful in guiding a team from the Championship into the Premier League.
Looking ahead to their 2013-14 Premier League campaign, Crystal Palace will need to spend wisely and buy the right players in order to make this stay in the Premier League last longer than one season. The squad as currently constructed is not enough onto itself but with Holloway in charge, Crystal Palace can give themselves a chance to compete against the bottom half of the table at the very least.
The loss Zaha will be big but with smart spending and good play, Crystal Palace can do what West Ham and Southampton were able to do this season, and that is play in the Premier League for more than one season.