Bluebirds hail Heaton heroics
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg at Selhurst Park, Cardiff needed just seven minutes to bring the tie level on aggregate. Anthony Gardner was the match-winner a fortnight ago in South London, but he turned from hero to villain when he put through his own goal.
The bookies could barely split them before kick-off, pricing both teams at 5/6 to qualify and there was little to separate the sides throughout as Cardiff dominated but were kept at bay by Palace and their keeper Julian Speroni.
The night got harder for the Eagles with 12 minutes of normal time remaining when centre-half Paddy McCarthy was dismissed by referee Howard Webb for a second bookable offence. Nevertheless, despite hitting the woodwork on three occasions, Cardiff were unable to find a way through a determined Palace backline and prevent the semi-final from heading to a penalty shoot-out.
The penalties began badly for the Welsh side with Kenny Miller blazing over, but Heaton was equal to efforts from Jermaine Easter and Sean Scannell and when Jonathan Parr needed to net at the vital moment, his nerve failed him and he sent his kick wide to spark scenes of joy in South Wales.
Despite being the only side guaranteed of a place in February’s final, Championship Cardiff remain the 9/2 outsiders for the cup behind the two Premier League sides who compete in Wednesday’s semi final.
Result: Cardiff 1-0 Crystal Palace 0 (1-1 on aggregate - Cardiff win 3-1 on penalties)
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