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Zaha Fires Palace into Playoff Final

Manchester United’s on-loan winger Wilfried Zaha scored twice as Crystal Palace beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 on the night and 2-0 on aggregate to put the London club through to the Championship Playoff Final at Wembley on May 27.. Zaha, a former Palace player, signed with United in January, but was promptly loaned back to the club for the rest of the season.

“I've played for Palace for 10 years so this is the perfect way to cap it,” Zaha, 20, said. “I just wanted to finish one of my last games for the club in a strong way and getting two goals is a dream." Zaha’s goals in the 66th and 88th minute were just his second and third strikes of 2013.

For the third time in four seasons, Ian Holloway will be coaching in the Playoff Final, the game many refer to as the most valuable in soccer, with the winner receiving an estimated $183 million just for making it to the Premier League. Holloway led Blackpool to the Premier League through the Playoff Final in 2010, but he and the Tangerines came up short last season. Now he is trying for a third time with Palace.

“We've come to the hardest place ever and have shown all sorts of strength of character,” Holloway said, referring to winning on a hated rival’s ground. “Did I doubt my lads? No, I didn't. Did I doubt myself? No. Other people did. [Zaha] will be a match winner at the top, top, top level but I thought he wanted to keep playing well for us, and he did today."

Read the whole story at Independent »

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