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Palace profit from soft penalty and Cabaye sends them to Wembley

Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | March 11, 2016

Reading 0-2 Crystal Palace

  • Al-Habsi makes string of fine saves for hosts
  • Cabaye twice denied from dead-ball situations
  • Royals stopper also saves from Adebayor and Bolasie
  • John header kept out by Hennessey
  • Eagles win tie with controversial Cabaye spot-kick and Cooper red card
  • Bolasie hits bar late on, Campbell confirms win as Pardew takes team to semis

Eagles down to FA’s final four

Reading v Crystal Palace - FA Cup - Quarter Final - Madejski Stadium

Crystal Palace became the first side to book their place in the FA Cup semi-finals thanks to Yohan Cabaye’s controversial penalty and a harsh sending off for Reading youngster Jake Cooper.

Having been on the receiving end of a contentious spot-kick recently when throwing away a 1-0 lead against 10-man Liverpool, the Eagles this time profited from a soft-looking award.

To compound Royals misery, referee Mike Dean brandished red at defender Cooper, who made minimal contact with Yannick Bolasie but was adjudged to have denied a clear scoring opportunity.

Fraizer Campbell came off the visiting bench to confirm Alan Pardew’s team would advance by scoring in stoppage time, tapping in his own rebound after the outstanding Ali Al-Habsi tipped his initial effort onto the post.

Chances aplenty in first-half

Early openings for both sides were wasted with pacy Palace player Bolasie’s left-wing burst on the break finding no takers caught up with him in the middle.

Reading v Crystal Palace - FA Cup - Quarter Final - Madejski Stadium

Wales full back Chris Gunter saw a free-kick wasted with international and former Cardiff City teammate Joe Ledley clearing this and other deliveries.

Pardew was again without in-form Eagles striker Connor Wickham, so Emmanuel Adebayor deputised yet spurned half-chances.

Palace overloaded the left from a tactical point of view, with Wilfried Zaha joining Bolasie down that flank, and such double speed sought to stretch Reading.

Dear John a Royal pain

With Ola John – younger brother of former Fulham forward Collins – frustrating as the Royals tried to play the Eagles at their own game, the hosts’ best first-half opportunity came through Paul McShane. The returning Wayne Hennessey thwarted him, however.

Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Barclays Premier League - Selhurst Park

Cabaye’s dead-ball strike then needed helping on its way up the other end by Al-Habsi, an FA Cup winner with Wigan Athletic from 2013.

Adebayor came closest to a goal before half-time when forcing the Oman goalie into a sprawling save when slipped in down the right channel.

John twice saw efforts end up in the side-netting, first via a deflection and then almost punished a Hennessey error.

Cabaye tried his luck from range on the stretch, as Palace took a more route one approach, but his volley proved hard to control.

Prince of the posts Ali keeps Reading in it

Charlton Athletic v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - The Valley

Al-Habsi then parried a Bolasie strike and Joe Ledley snatched at the rebound by blazing over. The Reading keeper was also at his best early in the second-half to deny Mile Jedinak from nodding in Cabaye’s set-piece.

Oliver Norwood had to clear off the line from the resultant corner before Dean booked Zaha and Gunter following a spat.

Slick counter-attacking from Bolasie, harshly cautioned moments earlier for what looked a fine tackle on Jordan Obita, and Zaha set up Adebayor to waste another decent Eagles opening.

Another plunging palm save from Al-Habsi thwarted a successive Cabaye free-kick with Palace becoming increasingly frustrated. Hennessey, meanwhile, atoned for earlier shakiness by keeping out John’s back-post header.

Reading v Crystal Palace - FA Cup - Quarter Final - Madejski Stadium

Penalty pain for McDermott

With six minutes left, Bolasie went down under minimal contact from Cooper’s challenge in the box and official Dean pointed to the spot.

Cabaye’s kick from 12 yards had too much on it for Al-Habsi to keep out, and he was helpless when another slaloming Bolasie run in off the flank saw a shot crack against the bar.

Although Al-Habsi saved at the death from Campbell, he followed in to fire home the rebound from point-blank range and ensure Palace will be at Wembley.

Reading v Crystal Palace - FA Cup - Quarter Final - Madejski Stadium

Manager Pardew got one over his old friend Brian McDermott here, and his own inspirational semis showing in Eagles colours some 26 years ago could yet inspire the south London side to a cup final. Coral have cut Palace from 15/2 to 6/1 to lift this trophy.

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