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Page last updated at 22:39 GMT, Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Crystal Palace v Cardiff as it happened


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By Chris Bevan

2235: And this is where I have to bid you farewell. Thanks for keeping me company tonight - Crystal Palace's 1-0 first-leg win leave their semi-final with Cardiff nicely in the balance - and I hope to see you all again on Wednesday when Manchester City host Liverpool in the first leg of the other Carling Cup semi-final. Don't forget you can watch that game live on BBC One (and this website in the UK) from 1930 GMT. Should be good, no?

2232: Yep, tonight's win over Hereford was the Pirates' first in nine league games since the end of October. It has been a long time coming.

B_Munene on Twitter: "Can't believe Bristol Rovers actually won!! #UpTheGas"

WoodsyM88 on Twitter: "Very proud Palace fan on way home! Fans were amazing! One positive result away from Wembley! Just wanted to survive a year ago!"

Full time
FULL-TIME Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff City
Alistair Magowan reports: "A triumph for Dougie Freedman's side, who had the perfect remedy for the virus suffered by many of their team. They will face a sterner test in Cardiff."

2227: Let's have a quick reminder of how tonight's Carling Cup semi-final unfolded...

nedthomasisablu on Twitter: "1-0 is ok, still in the tie. Looking forward to the second leg now. Forever a Bluebird!"

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay on his side's first leg semi-final defeat, and That Kenny Miller disallowed goal: "We dominated play and had countless chances on and off goal tonight. The referee not giving the goal was a surprise to me. I think I know why, maybe because he gave a corner and he thought it was a goal kick, and I think he tried to rectify it very quickly. No one has touched Julian Speroni and the referee has had a howler there. You don't level one thing up with another."

flyguyxav7 on Twitter: "Re 2200: Zaha has just signed a new deal. He'll be terrorising defenses in a Palace shirt for years to come."

2220: Andy Carroll's fee was obviously hugely inflated but the reason Liverpool were willing to pay so much for him was because he had delivered in the Premier League. Wilfried Zaha hasn't done that, not yet anyway. I think we should look at Victor Moses, another ex-Palace superkid, as more of a guide to Zaha's fee (if he is sold of course!). Moses went for £2.5m - probably about half of what the Eagles might have got for him if they hadn't just gone into administration.

1257_will on Twitter: "Re James, if Carroll is worth £35m then surely Zaha worth more than £4m."

Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman on his side's narrow first leg win: "Every man has played a part in what we've done. It was a very proud performance. Football is about passing and moving but you have to show character. Mile Jedinank and Paddy McCarthy are pretty much dead on their feet [because of a virus], and we will have to look at their recovery, but in big games you have to play them."

Palacefan2k8 on Twitter: "Re 2203. Cardiff are bad losers. Speroni was clearly pushed and ref made the right choice."

From Palace fan, via text: "Despite getting a bit of luck, I thought defensively we deserved the win tonight. The one point about getting to the final is, we will have no pressure on us if we get there. The pressure will be on the big team, and pressure does strange things sometimes... "

2208: Cardiff boss Malky Mackay isn't happy about Kenny Miller's disallowed goal either. You can make your own minds up when you watch highlights from Selhurst Park in The League Cup Show on BBC One and this website (in the UK) at 2335 GMT.

From anon, via text: "Looking at the replays from Cardiff's disallowed goal and it looks like they've been robbed there."

2203: I've just been looking at Cardiff's disallowed goal again. I still have no idea why referee Mike Dean blew his whistle before Kenny Miller headed home. To me it seemed he saw all the pushing and shoving before the corner came across, and had already decided to give a foul. Only Dean knows for sure, though.

2200: So, Palace edge it on the night but I reckon that sets us up nicely for the return in Cardiff on 24 January. The Bluebirds have goals in them but they will have to watch Palace on the counter-attack, especially if Wilfried Zaha is still an Eagles player. That game is live on the BBC by the way, much like Manchester City versus Liverpool on Wednesday. More on that in a bit.

Crystal Palace goalscorer Anthony Gardner on his side's 1-0 win over Cardiff in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final: "We needed to get a good performance in at home and get ourselves ready for the second leg. It was intense, you could see out there, it was a fiery game, they came to win it and so did we but the fire was in the belly and you could see that with the boys tonight. When you've got Darren Ambrose there, he is always going to put it on the money, his free-kicks are dangerous."

Dan Foye on Twitter: "There should not be '2 legs' in a's a knockout competition, you should get one chance."

AndyMoscrop on Twitter: "Re 83 mins. Did anyone think Birmingham would beat Arsenal last year?"

OptaJoe on Twitter: "7 - Half of the 14 teams to have won the 1st leg 1-0 at home in two-legged League Cup Semi-Finals have reached the final. Knife-edge."

Samuel Wooster on Twitter: "Re 83 mins. Must agree, good game but neither are playing to a quality of beating either team. However, they say form goes out the window."

2154: What's been happening elsewhere, then? How about a big win for Sheffield United in League One and the worst possible return to Yeovil for boss Gary Johnson. The Blades cruise to a 4-0 win with Lee Williamson bagging a couple for the home side. In League Two, Bristol Rovers pick up their long-awaited league win with a 2-1 victory at 10-man Hereford. In the Johnstone's Paint Trophy southern final, first leg it ends all square at 1-1 between Swindon and Barnet and nicely poised for the return leg.

Full time
2154: FULL-TIME Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff City

93 mins: Julian Speroni punches clear and another Aron Gunnarsson throw-in is hacked away. It looks like Palace are going to survive... but only just.

92 mins: Andrew Taylor is the latest Cardiff player to try his luck, but his is a rather wild effort from the left-hand corner of the area that flies over Julian Speroni's bar. Still, this isn't over yet because Cardiff have yet another corner...

90 mins: Again, Palace are fortunate as Julian Speroni trips over Anthony Gardner as he tries to deal with a corner, and the keeper is nowhere to be seen as Ben Turner tries - and fails - to get on the end of the high ball. There will be FOUR minutes of added time for the Eagles to hold out.

89 mins: This is real pressure by Cardiff and they are a bit unlucky to see Peter Whittingham's goalbound shot deflected wide. The Eagles are feeling the heat and are making another change, with Jermaine Easter on for Wilfried Zaha. Easter is a striker but I suspect he will spend most of his time on the pitch in his own area.

87 mins: Good defending by Anthony Gardner, and not for the first time tonight. He is in the right place to head clear with Don Cowie poised to nod in a cross. Cardiff are pouring forward now, though, and after Kenny Miller's acrobatic shot is deflected over for a corner, Aron Gunnarsson cuts in to fire just over with an angled shot. So, he does more than just take throw-ins then?

85 mins: Maybe Darren Ambrose does want to prove he is Premier League class. He surges forward from his own half, beats two men and is only stopped 25 yards from goal because Joe Ralls trips him. Will he do any better from this free-kick? Erm, no. He blasts it about 10 miles high and wide. Maybe this paragraph sort of sums him up?

83 mins: One other point - despite this being a decent game, I haven't seen much tonight to worry Liverpool or Manchester City, who meet in the first leg of the other semi-final on Wednesday. Have you?

81 mins: This game has been fast and frantic and you just feel that, if Cardiff had more composure in front of goal, they might have had a bit more joy. Their latest attack ends when a cross flashes across the face of goal, flicks off Kenny Miller and ends up being sliced a mile wide by Joe Ralls at full stretch. He probably could have taken a touch there too.

78 mins: Palace's turn to attack, and Darren Ambrose goes for goal with his latest free-kick, from a dangerous position - central and about 20 yards out. Something special? Nope, he fires high over the bar. Palace decide to make their first substitution, with Sean Scannell on for Chris Martin.

76 mins: Another Cardiff change, with Stephen McPhail on for Joe Mason. This is a better spell by the Bluebirds, if only because they haven't given the ball away for a while... but it ends when Joe Ralls drives a shot straight at Julian Speroni from distance.

73 mins: Yep, Cardiff are living dangerously now, leaving big gaps at the back and relying on a marginal offside decisions to keep Palace at bay as Glenn Murray tries to sprint clear. Malky Mackay might want an away goal pretty badly but he definitely doesn't need a second Palace goal ahead of the second leg.

BBC Radio 5 live
David Pleat at Selhurst Park on BBC Radio 5 live: "There have been about eight long throw-ins by Cardiff now and I know football is full of statistics but when they sit down at the end of the game, they might wonder what they got from it. I'm not a big fan of that tactic. Some clubs do the same thing through the whole game without mixing it up and sometimes you wonder what the benefit is because you don't often see goals coming from it."

2128: A quick update for you from around the grounds. In League Two Bristol Rovers make their man advantage over Hereford tell as Scott McGleish puts the visitors 2-1 up after Benoit Dalibard's dismissal for the Bulls. In the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Swindon have let Barnet back in the match with Mark Hughes getting on the scoresheet. Busy day for him.

David Butler on Twitter: "Re 14 mins. With Scholes & Henry both returning Harry Redknapp is only at Selhurst Park for 1 thing, Anthony Gardner back to the Lane... "

67 mins: We've seen this before. Yep, another one of those curling Darren Ambrose free-kicks, this time from the right. Palace's goalscorer Anthony Gardner gets on the end of this one too, but the ball flicks off his head and zips wide.

65 mins: An enforced change at the back for Cardiff. Kevin McNaughton hobbles off, and Darcy Blake is on.

Tomst on Twitter: "Zaha looks like a Taarabt type show pony. The latter once "wanted by Real&Barca" can't get in the QPR team."

Ross Edser on Twitter: "You can see how much potential Zaha has. He is showing glimpses of a player that could be very special."

65 mins: Aron Gunnarsson is still flinging in those long throws but Cardiff also look confident on the ball when they try to use it on the ground. The Bluebirds are committing more and more men forward now too as they look for that away goal, but they have to be careful because Palace have plenty of pace on the break.

62 mins: There is still a great tempo to this game, and a cracking atmosphere in Selhurst Park too. Palace look most dangerous when they work it down the wings, and another Wilfried Zaha's bouncing cross brings an undignified clearance from Mark Hudson, with one of those headers with the ball only an inch above the ground.

Paul Holloway on Twitter: "Anthony Gardner had the ability to be a very good centre half but due to injuries and inconsistency he never really pushed on."

59 mins: A BIG let-off for Palace this. There is a lot of pushing and shoving from both sides in the box as the corner comes across but referee Mike Dean adjudges Joe Mason to have impeded Julian Speroni before Kenny Miller rises at the back post to nod it home. From the replays, it is not exactly obvious what Mason did wrong.

57 mins: Palace have some defending to do here, though, when they fail to deal with a cross into the box and Joe Mason's bouncing shot flies a whisker wide. It was deflected, so Cardiff will get a corner.

InHouseHotshot on Twitter: "Ambrose only switches on when the cameras are around, he's been quiet for the last year and a half - apart from his goal v MUFC"

James Felipe on Twitter: "Re Zaha. No Championship player should ever be valued over £4m, If they were worth more than that, they'd be in the Premier League already."

53 mins: Palace are definitely on top at the moment, and not just because they lead 1-0. This time they want a penalty when Jonathan Parr's pull-back hits Don Cowie. Referee Mike Dean is having none of it and replays show Dean is right... the ball hit Cowie on his thigh, not his arm.

51 mins: Wilfried Zaha is involved again and, thankfully for him with Harry Redknapp watching, he is back to bending in dangerous balls from the left rather than demonstrating a dodgy first touch. His cross comes all the way to Darren Ambrose on the far side of the box but, although Ambrose finds Chris Martin when he drives it back across goal, the ball comes at Martin too fast for him to divert it goalwards.

49 mins: Nope, make that £10m. This time Wilfried Zaha's control lets him down as he looks to latch on to Jonathan Parr's curving pass on the edge of the box... and the ball flies straight out of play.

47 mins: Wilfried Zaha does love a step-over, doesn't he? There's an end-product to his skill this time too, as he whips in great cross after skipping past two Cardiff defenders. I reckon he's worth £15m now.

2103: Right, here we go again. Cardiff get the second half under way. By the way, away goals only count double in this semi-final if the scores are still level after extra-time in the second leg. No need to worry about that sort of thing just yet, though.

From another anon, via text: "Speaking as a Palace fan, Ambrose has the quality but goes hiding in matches far too often."

2102: Couple of early second-half strikes in the Football League to tell you about. Sheffield United now seemingly out of sight against Yeovil with Lee Williamson making it 3-0 soon after the restart, while Bristol Rovers let their lead slip at Hereford with Delroy Facey drawing the hosts level.

benjdsmith on Twitter: "Everybody talks about the youth in the team, but really pleased to see Anthony Gardner stick one in!"

I remember when Gardner got called into the England squad. It didn't quite happen for him, did it?

2059: News from the Johnstone's Paint Trophy now. Swindon are a goal to the good against Barnet in the southern final. Aden Flint grabbing the opener just before the break for the visitors. It's been a decent week for Paolo di Canio's side in cup competitions so far.

From anon, via text: "Darren Ambrose looks like a Premier League player. I wouldn't be surprised if we see him moving too the Premier League soon!"

Hmmm, I agree with where anon is coming from - Ambrose has looked classy at times tonight - but is he one of these players that stands out in the Championship but is not good enough to have the same impact in the Premier League? A bit like Jason Koumas or even Mark Kennedy a few years ago.

BBC Radio 5 live
David Pleat at Selhurst Park on BBC Radio 5 live: "Early on, Cardiff played the more pleasing football and passed well. But the long throw-ins didn't disturb Crystal Palace and although they could not get Wilfried Zaha on the ball, they slowly came back into game and the midfielders Kagisho Dikgacoi and Mile Jedinak got a foothold."

Stuart__Young on Twitter: "David Marshall needs to start the 2nd leg. Heaton's decision making is awful. C'mon Cardiff!"

Half time
Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff City
Alistair Magowan's HT snapshot:
"Crystal Palace have done very well to weather an early Cardiff storm and take the lead. They aren't renowned for goals galore but they will want another one to take to Cardiff in a fortnight."

Ashley Braunton on Twitter: "£10m for thanks, we have Bale and Lennon anyway. Would rather have Hoillett from Rovers."

2050: Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman has a blooming great grin on his face as he walks off at the break. I'm not surprised he is so pleased to see his side score, though, because they don't get many - just 24 goals in 25 Championship matches this season, and they haven't managed more than one in any game since they beat Manchester United in the last round, at the end of November. They had 30 minutes of extra-time in that one of course.

2048: HALF-TIME Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff City

45 mins: All of a sudden, the Palace fans have found their voice. We will have just one minute of added time before the break.

Palace goal: Erm, what was I saying about Cardiff keeper Tom Heaton? Again, he comes rushing off his line to try to punch clear a Darren Ambrose free-kick, but Kagisho Dikgacoi gets there first to send the ball looping towards the goal, where Anthony Gardner is in the right place to turn it over the line.

44 mins: GOALFLASH Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff City (Anthony Gardner)

43 mins: Both sides have defended well tonight but, Palace don't do so well here. They give Cardiff a second bite of the cherry after Anthony Gardner seemed to have snuffed out the danger... and they are grateful to see Joe Ralls shoot wide.

41 mins: Another dangerous free-kick by Darren Ambrose for Palace, from a similar position to his last one out on the left. This time he whips it into the near post, where Kagisho Dikgacoi has sprinted into space... but the offside flag is up because Glenn Murray made his move too soon.

2041: It's half-time in the League One and Two matches. Sheffield United looking comfortable at 2-0 against Yeovil - not an ideal return for boss Gary Johnson, and in League Two, Bristol Rovers hold that narrow one-goal advantage at Hereford.

38 mins: I've been impressed by Cardiff keeper Tom Heaton tonight. This time he comes dashing from his line to collect a deep Darren Ambrose free-kick. It was important he caught it cleanly too, because Paddy McCarthy was unmarked and waiting to nod it goalwards.

BBC Radio 5 live
David Pleat at Selhurst Park on BBC Radio 5 live: "We've got a real competition on our hands. Crystal Palace have resisted so far and Cardiff have had the superior approach play."

From anon, via text: "Re 14 mins. good to see Harry Redknapp didn't make the same mistake as Peter Beardsley who travelled from Newcastle to watch Zaha only to find out the player was suspended for that game."

From Arron Burton on Trent, via text: "Re 14 mins. Harry Redknapp may well be watching Zaha but unless he's willing to part with north of £10m then he won't be signing him."

32 mins: Another sight of goal for Kenny Miller, when he picks up a loose ball from a corner. He has time to take a snap-shot from near the penalty spot but elects to take a touch first, and Palace have enough men in the area to crowd him out. It's still goalless at Selhurst Park, and still pretty breathless too.

30 mins: Cardiff respond with their best effort of the night. Peter Whittingham reaches the byline and finds Kenny Miller, who has enough space on the left of the area to bend a shot goalwards. He does not quite get enough bend on his shot to force Julian Speroni into a save, but that whistled just wide of the far post.

27 mins: Yep, Palace have found their feet and they almost find the opening goal. Glenn Murray starts a neat move down the left and Chris Martin helps the ball on to Kagisho Dikgacoi, arriving at speed at the back post. This is a great chance but his low first-time shot brings a sharp save out of Tom Heaton.

2027: News on those other games now. In League One, Sheffield United going well against Yeovil with Richard Cresswell and Michael Doyle on target - 2-0 the Blades lead. Bristol Rovers also ahead in their League Two match against Hereford, thanks to Lee Brown's early opener.

23 mins: Palace's turn to have a go from a corner, but Cardiff keeper Tom Heaton comes flying off his line to punch it clear. Still, the home side manage to keep the pressure on despite some failed fancy footwork from Wilfried Zaha on the edge of the box.

21 mins: By the looks of things, Aron Gunnarsson is Iceland's answer to Rory Delap. He's just catapulted another one of those long throws into the danger zone and Palace are happy to concede a corner. When it comes over, Ben Turner rises above Anthony Gardner but flashes his header inches over the bar. That's the closest we've come to a goal yet.

18 mins: Palace have definitely settled down a bit now, but the action is still fast and furious. That means lots of misplaced passes, like Peter Ramage's cross, which he slices horribly out of play from out wide on the right.

Gary Hampson on Twitter: "Wearing my @Official_CPFC scarf here in the office in NY while anxiously keeping tabs on the #BBCFootball live text. Come on the Palace!"

Jack Willows on Twitter: "There's a lot of promise on the pitch at the moment, many of the players might find themselves in the Prem soon."

15 mins: Palace have a sniff from the resulting corner too, but Glenn Murray did not make the most of his header... sending the ball looping a mile off target.

14 mins: Our first sight of Wilfried Zaha tonight. He cleverly makes space for a shot on the edge of the area, but it deflects wide off Andrew Taylor - in fact it hit him full in the face. Ouch. Anyway, I'm hearing Spurs boss Harry Redknapp is at Selhurst Park to watch Zaha tonight... it would be a good night for him to turn it on.

12 mins: More good work by Kenny Miller, who seems to have shaken off that knee injury. His cross from the right eventually finds its way to Joe Ralls at the far post, but his low shot is well stopped by Julian Speroni. It took a deflection on its way to goal too.

BBC Radio 5 live
David Pleat at Selhurst Park on BBC Radio 5 live: "A lot of eyes will be on the speedy Wilfried Zaha, Palace's 19-year-old outside-right. If the Eagles get the ball to their forward players they will begin to gain possession."

8 mins: It was Kagisho Dikgacoi who conceded that free kick, bringing down Kevin McNaughton as he surged towards the penalty area. Cardiff are still playing at 100mph and not allowing the Eagles to settle, but the home side are holding out.

6 mins: Another scare for Palace, who have barely got out of their own half yet. Peter Whittingham fires in a free-kick from the edge of the area and it is almost deflected into the path of Aron Gunnarsson inside the six-yard box. Julian Speroni dives on to the loose ball to avert the danger.

4 mins: Peter Whittingham whips the corner in, but Palace clear, for now. Cardiff striker Kenny Miller is seeing plenty of the ball in the early stages, but it looks like he has picked up a knee injury.

2 mins: This is an extremely decent start by Cardiff. Aron Gunnarsson has launched three long throws into the Palace box, and now the Bluebirds have a corner.

2002: We are under way at Selhurst Park. It's still pretty noisy.

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay speaking before kick-off at Selhurst Park on his side's impressive form that has seen them lose just one of their last 15 games before their weekend FA Cup exit: "There has certainly been a lot of changes in a short space of time and I'm delighted with our position, and more delighted with how quickly the team have gelled, and this competition has helped. Rudy Gestede rolled his ankle against West Brom, but apart from that we have a fully fit squad."

Alistair Magowan reports:
"Both teams makes wholesale changes to the sides which played in the FA Cup last weekend which shows you where the focus is. Palace have Julian Speroni back in goal, while Anthony Gardner, Paddy McCarthy and Mile Jedinak have all fought off a virus to play, although Nathaniel Clyne misses out. Cardiff revert to a side which beat Reading in the Championship save for two changes. Kevin McNaughton is back in the side in place of Darcy Blake, while Tom Heaton remains in goal"

Meilyr_Jones on Twitter: "Fancy Cardiff tonight! And if they get through to the final,who knows what could happen, it's the Carling Cup after all!"

1957: The players emerge from the tunnel in the corner of a very lively Selhurst Park. These fans can taste a trip to Wembley, I reckon.

1954: Did I really write that Cardiff had lost to Stoke in the FA Cup at 1933? A classic case of my fingers not listening to my brain... although who can blame them? Anyway, kick-off is fast approaching at Selhurst Park, and Palace have just released their 'live' mascot, Kayla the Eagle to swoop across the pitch. I hope Cardiff didn't bring a real bluebird with them tonight, because it won't last long with Kayla flying about. She looks pretty hungry to me.

1950: A fairly resounding reaction then (there were more than just those three replies I've included below) from Birmingham fans who would choose winning the Carling Cup over staying in the Premier League. I recall several Portsmouth fans said the same about their FA Cup victory too.

ThomasStenson on Twitter: "Birmingham City season ticket holder for last 11 years, would 100% win the carling cup and go down then win nothing and stay up."

From Sophie in Leeds, via text: "As a Birmingham fan, I can confirm that the answer is yes - winning a trophy is much better than being 17th in the Prem. Europa league is fun, too!"

danm6038 on Twitter: "Re 1942. As a Blues fan that Wembley day is one never to forget. Definitely wouldn't give it up for another year in the Prem!"

Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman, speaking just before kick-off, on his virus-hit side: "I've looked a few of the players in the eye and decided to play them. They've been in their sick beds the last few days but it's such a vital game. Missing them in the final day [of training] is a blow but they've been training for the last five months and they have that physical condition. So they've had a couple of tablets and get them out there."

BBC Radio 5 live
1942: Two commentaries for you from Selhurst Park to choose from tonight. If you give this page a manual refresh, you can take your pick from BBC Radio 5 live, or BBC Radio Wales. I suspect the latter will be talking a little bit more about Cardiff though.

From Palace fan, via text: "Re 1901. Would a Premier League team choose relegation and a Carling Cup victory over another season at the top of English football?

I guess we should ask Birmingham City fans that!?!

nedthomasisablu on Twitter: "Peter Whittingham v Wilfried Zaha will be a great battle. Both Premier League standard."

Crystal Palace v Cardiff line-ups
Crystal Palace:
Speroni, Ramage, McCarthy, Gardner, Parr, Zaha, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Ambrose, Martin, Murray. Subs: Price, Wright, Garvan, Scannell, Easter, O'Keefe, Andrew.
Cardiff: Heaton, McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor, Cowie, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Ralls, Mason, Miller. Subs: Marshall, Kiss, Gerrard, Earnshaw, Conway, Blake, McPhail.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

1933: BREAKING CARDIFF TEAM NEWS Cardiff also make 10 changes from their FA Cup exit, in their case at the hands of West Brom. Fit-again defender Kevin McNaughton is among those coming back into their starting line-up.

1932: Cardiff, meanwhile, were too good for Blackburn in the last eight, with Rovers boss Steve Kean famously claiming afterwards that he had "forfeited" the match. Nice one Steve. The Welsh side have also overcome Oxford United, Jordan Rhodes (sorry, I mean Huddersfield Town), Leicester and Burnley to get this far.

1930: It's fair to say that both these teams have earned their place in the last four. Palace, as you will probably remember, only went and beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in the last round. Earlier in the competition they sprang another surprise against Wigan and have also seen off Crawley Town (of League Two) and two high-flying Championship teams in Middlesbrough and Southampton to get to this stage.

From Eaglesteve, via text: "Re 1901. As stated earlier. Far from ready to get promoted and Dougie and the team are doing a great job. Whatever happens tonight we are proud."

markccfc1 on Twitter: "Cardiff's away game at Doncaster Saturday is more important than tonight. Promotion is a must this season."

Jon8Edwards on Twitter: "All the Palace fans saying prefer cup win to promotion... they are no where near promotion...anyway, think it will be a battle."

1924: BREAKING PALACE TEAM NEWS: Crystal Palace make just the 10 changes from the side that lost to Derby in the FA Cup on Saturday. Three of the players who had been hit by that virus have recovered to start - Paddy McCarthy, Anthony Gardner and Mile Jedinak. Cardiff news, and full-line-ups, in just a tick.

1921: What else is happening tonight then? Plenty, starting with the Johnstone's Paint Trophy southern final. The first leg is at Underhill with Barnet welcoming Paolo di Canio's Swindon. There's a few league fixtures too. In League One Gary Johnson takes Yeovil to promotion-chasing Sheffield United and in League Two managerless Bristol Rovers, without a league win since the end of October, travel to Hereford. There's four fixtures in the Blue Square Bet Premier, Luton v Stockport the pick of those matches.

hibbertN1 on Twitter: "Re 1901. Can't Cardiff just have both? Sounds a tidy way to end the season to me..."

From anonymous Cardiff fan, via text: "Re 1901. After seasons of waiting, a one-off game just won't do; regardless of the Wembley factor. We want Man City, Liverpool, United and the rest every week. Can't wait to see them down here at Cardiff. Have the cup Palace. We want it all... "

(Carling Cup semi-final 1st Leg, 2000 GMT)
Alistair Magowan reports:
"Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman has admitted he would not know his team until 1700 GMT this evening such is the extent of that virus which is in the camp but he said: 'I have no worries with playing young players and never have done.' Cardiff boss Malky Mackay says although victory over Palace at home this season has little significance, he admits the game could be a 'tight affair.'"

OptaJoe on Twitter: "0 - Tonight will be the first League Cup semi-final without a top-flight side involved since Bolton vs Tranmere in 2000. Novel."

(Carling Cup semi-final 1st Leg, 2000 GMT)
Alistair Magowan reports:
"Both Crystal Palace and Cardiff have reached the FA Cup final in recent years, but neither team have made the League Cup final in their history and will want to become the first second-tier side to reach the final of this competition since Birmingham in 2001. Eight places separate them in the Championship, with Cardiff third, but Eagles manager Dougie Freedman's biggest concerns are about the health of his players after his squad was struck by a virus."

From Kris, via text: "I'd go for Option 3) Promotion to the Premiership via a day out at Wembley by winning the play-off final.

From Andrew in Cardiff, via text: "Re 1901. Has to be winning the Carling Cup. You can get promoted any year but it's not often a chance to play in Europe comes along."

1910: By the way, the Crystal Palace team news should be interesting tonight. A virus has sidelined half-a-dozen of Dougie Freedman's players and the Eagles boss says he will ask his players to be honest about whether they are fit enough to play. His Cardiff counterpart Malky Mackay has no such problems because both his injury doubts, defender Kevin McNaughton (calf) and striker Rudy Gestede (ankle) have recovered from knocks.

From Palace fan, via text: "I would definitely take a League Cup success over promotion. We are not quite ready for the Premier League, need one more season for squad to gel. Silverware and European football would be unreal."

Palacefan2k8 on Twitter: "Re 1901. Defiantly beating Man City or Liverpool FACT every time Palace are promoted to the Premier League they are relegated."

Palace fan tristanjt on Twitter: "Re 1901. Would rather win the cup this season - not ready for the Prem yet..."

1904: So, what are you waiting for? Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball, Tweet me @chrisbevan_bbc or text in via 81111 (UK). I'm waiting...

1901: With the below in mind, I'm going to repeat the question I posed (well, sort of) before last night's FA Cup tie. Palace and Cardiff fans (and anyone else for that matter), if you could choose now would you take 1) Having a day out at Wembley and beating Manchester City or Liverpool to win the Carling Cup, or 2) promotion to the Premier League?

1858: And, while both teams have been losing finalists in the FA Cup fairly recently - Palace in 1990, and Cardiff in 2009 - neither side has ever got further than the semi-final of the League Cup.

1856: When I say 'long awaited', I mean it too. Apart from some lower-division titles, Crystal Palace's list of honours starts and finishes with the 1991 Zenith Data Systems Cup. As for Cardiff? Well, they might have won the Welsh Cup 22 times, but they have not had quite so much joy in the English knock-out competitions: Their first and last major success was the 1927 FA Cup.

1854: Yep, a rare trip to Wembley for a cup final, the chance of some long awaited silverware and the possibility of a Europa League place are the prizes up for grabs for the Eagles and the Bluebirds. But who will grab them with both, er, talons? Palace have home advantage in the first leg this evening, with the return taking place in Wales on 24 January.

1850: Evening folks. In a season this crazy, it actually makes sense that a Championship side - either Crystal Palace or Cardiff City - will play Liverpool or Manchester City in next month's Carling Cup final. But which one? We might have a better idea after tonight...

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