Millwall 1-2 Crystal Palace: Michael Olise masterclass inspires FA Cup comeback

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·4-min read
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  • Crystal Palace
    Crystal Palace
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  • Benik Afobe
    Benik Afobe
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  • Michael Olise
    French association football player
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Michael Olise inspired Crystal Palace to come from behind to win a fiery south London derby against Millwall at the Den.

The winger scored and assisted Jean-Phillipe Mateta, as the Eagles recovered from 1-0 down at half-time to reach the FA Cup fourth-round.

Millwall, who were looking to continue their remarkable recent history of scalps in the competition, deservedly took the lead through Benik Afobe in the 17th minute and finished the game with another spell of dominance, backed by a ferocious home crowd.

Torrential rain in Bermondsey failed to dampen the Den’s atmosphere, which took on an edge before kick-off when Palace fans set off two smoke flares to loud bangs and Millwall supporters loudly booed as the visiting players took the knee.

The game was also briefly stopped after Palace’s winner when a smoke flare was thrown onto the pitch from the away end, while Palace’s Conor Gallagher was targeted by homophobic chanting.

Afobe, the on-loan Stoke striker, should have opened the scoring inside ten minutes but made amends by capitalising on an awful error by Jack Butland.

The Palace goalkeeper panicked under pressure from Afobe and Tom Bradshaw, and his mis-kick allowed the former Arsenal forward to roll into an empty net.

It took Palace 35 minutes to wake up, with Gallagher going close with a searching shot from 20 yards and Eberechi Eze appealing for a penalty in first-half stoppage-time.

The game was won through an impressive Palace rally after half-time, with Olise scoring inside 90 seconds of the restart with a lovely curling finish.

The winger twice went close to finding the net again, before he cut inside on his left foot once more to cross for Mateta, who headed home unmarked from six yards.

Millwall threatened to take the game to extra-time during a spell of late dominance, with Afobe seeing a shot blocked and substitute Mason Bennett firing straight at Butland.

Olise deserves Premier League chance after match-winning display

Olise was Palace’s match-winner with a goal and assist but the winger could easily have finished with a second-half hat-trick.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Millwall were powerless to stop Olise from cutting inside from the right wing, even though they must have known what was coming after his brilliant equalising goal.

After his lovely finish off the inside of the far post, Olise nearly scored a carbon copy four minutes later, only for this effort to rebound off the upright.

He also fired narrowly over from a similar position, again after jinking inside on his left foot.

When Millwall’s back three did manage to stop Olise getting off a shot, he turned Jack Cooper and put a cross on a plate for Mateta.

The 20-year-old now has two goals in as many games after scoring from the bench against West Ham on New Year’s Day, and he surely deserves a chance in the Premier League – particularly with Jordan Ayew away at the African Cup of Nations.

Olise has started just two top-flight matches since joining from Championship Reading, with Vieira preferring Ayew on the right.

After this display, he should get his chance, and the return of Eze, who made his first start since May, leaves the Palace boss with a wealth of attacking options.

Afobe takes his chance as Millwall fall short

Afobe spoke before the game about wanting to remind the country what he – and Millwall – could do, and the Lions acquitted themselves well.

Millwall were looking to become the most prolific giant-killers in FA Cup history (they remain level with Southampton on 25 scalps) and they used a tried and tested formula to unsettle Palace and establish early dominance.

In front of a rocking Den, Millwall were dangerous from set-pieces, with Scott Malone swinging a corner onto the top of the bar inside 90 seconds and Afobe firing over wildly from six yards after Palace had failed to clear a free-kick.

Gary Rowett’s side also played impressive football, using the slick pitch to play through the lines and pressing Palace high up the pitch, which led to Afobe’s goal.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Sheyi Ojo, on loan from Liverpool, was bright, while Afobe took his goal well and was involved in Millwall’s two best chances for an equaliser.

It was inevitable that Millwall would not be able to maintain their intensity for 90 minutes and although they finished the stronger, they were made to pay by Palace’s blitz at the start of the second half.

Nonetheless, Rowett can take encouragement from the way his side matched and even outplayed Palace for periods and if they can find some consistency in the second half of the season, a play-off push should be within their capabilities.

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