Olise and Mateta ensure Crystal Palace avoid FA Cup exit after scare at Millwall

At half-time, Millwall’s supporters must have been convinced this was going to be their day. Leading in the south London derby thanks to a howler from the Crystal Palace goalkeeper, Jack Butland, a famous FA Cup upset seemed on the cards.

Unfortunately for them Michael Olise had different ideas. A sparkling 13-minute period at the start of the second half when he equalised, hit the post and then set up Jean-Philippe Mateta for the winning goal was more evidence of the 20-year-old’s burgeoning talent.

“He was fantastic in the second half,” said Palace’s manager, Patrick Vieira. “He changed the game for us but it was like watching two different players in the first and second half. We know how good he can be so it’s about trying to help him reach that level of consistency.”

Apart from reaching the quarter-finals in 2019, Palace’s record in this competition has been awful since they came within nine minutes of beating Manchester United in the 2016 final, having been eliminated in the third round for the past two seasons. With that in mind, Vieira fulfilled his promise to select a strong side that included Conor Gallagher returning from injury.

Since Palace’s last trip here nearly nine years ago, Millwall have flirted with the top half of the Championship table but not quite managed to reach the play-offs despite a couple of close things. Their chances of reaching the top flight for the first time since 1990 were not helped by a run of three defeats in their past five league matches and this was a welcome opportunity to make a statement against their more illustrious neighbours.

While neither club would describe the other as mortal enemies there is certainly no love lost between teams separated by six miles and there was an intense atmosphere at kick-off.

Palace fans set off flares and there was widespread booing from all sections of the home support of those players who took the knee. Homophobic chants were aimed at Gallagher and are likely to be punished while Olise was struck by a bottle as he prepared to take a corner in the second half.

Gary Rowett, the Millwall manager, remembered this week how he had been on the end of some beatings against Vieira’s Arsenal during his playing days with Derby, but his side clearly had a gameplan from the start here and they sprang out of the traps.

Millwall should have gone ahead in the eighth minute when Benik Afobe blasted wide from close range but the former Arsenal striker would be handed another opportunity soon after. Quite what Butland was contemplating when he decided to take an extra touch under pressure from Tom Bradshaw only the goalkeeper will know and Afobe was a grateful recipient of his weak clearance.

Had George Saville made the most of a subsequent chance inside the area then it could have been much worse for the visitors.

While Eberechi Eze – making his first start since returning from a lengthy injury layoff – started to grow into the game against his former club after Palace’s lacklustre start it was Vieira who headed down the tunnel feeling frustrated after Saville’s well-timed challenge on the Palace midfielder inside the area went unpunished.

Whatever he said during the break clearly had the desired effect. Barely 40 seconds of the second half had elapsed when Gallagher picked out Olise on the right and he unleashed a brilliant curling shot that went in off the far post.

The 20-year-old was inches away from doubling his tally and putting Palace in front six minutes later with a carbon copy, only for the ball to bounce off the post and away to safety this time.

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