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 Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 22:57 GMT
Blades' dream lives on
Peter Ndlovu celebrates with Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock
Warnock enjoys the moment with Ndlovu
Sheff Utd 3-1 Crystal Palace

Substitute Paul Peschisolido struck twice in two minutes to fire Sheffield United into the semi-finals of the Worthington Cup for the first time in their history.

The striker netted in the dying minutes to spoil injury-ravaged Crystal Palace's fightback and set up a money-spinning encounter with Premiership opposition.

Palace, missing 11 players through injury and suspension, looked to have forced the game into extra-time with an equaliser just nine minutes from the end.

Blades skipper Robert Page was adjudged to have conceded an own goal to cancel out a first-half strike from Carl Asaba.

But Peschisolido grabbed a controversial goal within a couple of minutes of replacing Asaba before netting again moments later.

Palace, without so many first-team regulars, were content to rely on the odd breakaway.

But as the home side's mounting pressure and superiority began to tell the breakthrough finally came.

Michael Tonge drilled in a far-post cross which Phil Jagielka headed back across goal for Asaba to nip in ahead of the defenders and divert the ball into the net.

It was his ninth goal of the campaign but first in the competition and had the majority of the 22,000-plus crowd scenting that first appearance in the semi-final stage.

Palace could quite easily have found themselves level within eight minutes of the restart as they fashioned a succession of decent chances.

Carl Asaba of Sheffield United celebrates scoring
Asaba was on target for the Blades

Central defender Kit Symons was left unmarked from a corner only to see his header rebound off a Blades defender.

The prospect of having another crack at Premiership opposition following their victories over Leeds and Sunderland was beginning to make the Blades players nervous.

Tonge came so close to making the game safe on 76 minutes as he dribbled his way into the area and produced a fierce shot that Danny Butterfield blocked on the line and somehow saw it lob over the bar.

Paddy Kenny produced a fingertip save to deny Hayden Mullins as the Palace skipper fired in a low shot.

He could do nothing about the own goal but Peschisolido popped up to leave Trevor Francis' men shattered.


Sheff Utd: Kenny, Jagielka, Harley, Murphy, Page, Brown, McCall (Montgomery 84), Ndlovu, Tonge, Asaba (Peschisolido 84), Allison.
Subs Not Used: Kozluk, Ten Heuvel, Javary.

Booked: Brown.

Crystal Palace: Kolinko, Powell, Symons, Antwi (Borrowdale 66), Butterfield, Mullins, Gray, Riihilahti, Black, Johnson, Adebola (Williams 79).
Subs Not Used: Michopoulos, Heeroo, Togwell.

Booked: Black, Mullins.

Attendance: 22,211

Referee: E Wolstenholme (Lancashire).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Peter Slater
"The Blades won it late"
 Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock
"We worked very hard"

Semi-final ties

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