The Carling Cup draw did Crystal Palace and Cardiff City a favor, matching them up and leaving Liverpool and Manchester City in the other semifinal, meaning one Championship team will see their fairytale cup run through to the final. After one leg, that team looks more likely to be Palace, who got a goal from Anthony Gardner just before halftime and held on to pick up a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park. The win may not match their quarterfinal shock of Manchester United at Old Trafford, but if it leads to a spot in their first final since 1990, it might be remembered just as fondly.
Gardner hadn't scored in more than a year, but he didn't have much to do for his finish. Tom Heaton came flying off his line to claim a corner kick, but he was beaten to the ball by Mile Jedinak, who flicked the ball on to Gardner. The former Tottenham defender just had to knock the ball into an empty net, which he did, and Selhurt Park erupted.
Cardiff will feel as if they should have equalized after Kenny Miller found the back of the net, but the whistle had already been blown for a foul and the goal was disallowed. Cardiff may have carried much of the match to Palace, but the reality is that Palace plays on the counter-attack and was more than willing to give possession to the visitors. They limited the number of chances Cardiff had and struck when given the opportunity, which has become the norm for them.
Despite the loss, Cardiff should feel as if they have a real chance to get a two-goal win in the second leg. They weren't poor in the first leg and have already defeated Palace 2-0 at home in the Championship. Do that again and they're on to Wembley, but Palace, who were in administration just two years ago, appear to have some fairy dust sprinkled on them.