Crystal Palace turned up the gears in the second-half to come from behind against Millwall at The Den in a 2-1 victory that saw the Eagles safely into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Palace turned in an impressive second-half display after an opening 45 that was nowhere near to the standards they have set for themselves this season. Young Michael Olise was the catalyst for Patrick Vieira’s side and was directly involved in both of the visitors’ goals. His overall performance was outstanding and he constantly tormented the left side of Millwall’s defence. The 20-year-old was able to cut inside with ease and Scott Malone in particular had a nightmare this afternoon trying to cope with him.
The game was cagey in the early stages, with both sides struggling to maintain possession and have an impact in the final third. The home side were relentless with their pressing though, and it allowed them to strike first. Palace goalkeeper Jack Butland gifted the ball to Benik Afobe trying to play out and the striker had the simplest of finishes.
The early set-back sparked the visitors into life and Jeffrey Schlupp stinged the palms of George Long with an effort on the edge of the area. Conor Gallagher was the next Palace player to have a chance to pull the Eagles level but his effort from outside the box flew just wide.
Whatever Vieira said to his players at the break paid off instantly as Olise equalised straight from the restart with a curled effort from the right that bounced off the post and in. The young Frenchman nearly completed the turnaround on his own with an identical strike that hit the far post moments later, but this time it ricocheted out.
Olise was a man-possessed in the second-half and he assisted Jean-Philippe Mateta to complete the Palace turnaround. He carried the ball from the halfway line before floating in an inviting cross for the striker who had the simplest of headers to score. Millwall committed bodies forward in the latter stages to find a way to take the game to extra-time but the Eagles defended resolutely.
Elsewhere, League Two Hartlepool United completed an astonishing turnaround against Championship side Blackpool to win 2-1 at Bloomfield Road and progress to the fourth round. Two second-half goals for Graeme Lee’s side completed the comeback to send Neil Critchley’s side crashing out of the prestigious competition.
There was another upset in the form of Championship side Huddersfield Town, who came from behind to beat Premier League Burnley 2-1 at Turf Moor, piling more misery on a disappointing season for the Clarets.
Meanwhile, a five-goal thriller was played out between League Two Mansfield Town and Middlesbrough at the One Call Stadium as Chris Wilder’s side emerged as the 3-2 victors. In the Midlands, Coventry City edged fellow Championship rivals Derby County 1-0 at the Ricoh Arena.