Thu, May 11, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Hornets buzz past Crystal Palace to reach league final


Watford held Crystal Palace to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday to win 3-0 on aggregate and set up a League Championship playoff final against Leeds.

Leading comfortably from the first leg at Selhurst Park and with home advantage at Vicarage Road, the Hornets relied on its defense to keep at bay a Palace strikeforce that included Andy Johnson, a standby player for England's World Cup squad.

The game will be remembered, however, for a brawl during the second half involving virtually every player on the field and both benches. At one stage, Palace defender Fitz Hall appeared to punch Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd.

The melee started after Boothroyd appeared to prevent Hall taking a quick throw in by rolling the ball away from him after it had gone out of play.

There were no red cards for the players but Boothroyd was sent to the stands by referee Steve Tanner, and the Football Association could ban him from the bench at the final if it decides to take action against the Watford manager.

"I wasn't trying to be clever. I was just trying to get the ball back," Boothroyd said. ``I suppose in this environment it was a little irresponsible.

"I've learned two things tonight. One is to stay out of the way when the ball comes near me, and the other is my players are better when I'm in the stand.

"The referee asked me to go to the stand and I complied with his decision. I don't want a riot here. It was just enthusiasm trying to get the ball back so I hope he puts that in his report and I'm allowed on the touchline."

Under Boothroyd, Watford has improved from two points above relegation to within sight of a return to the Premier League for the first time in six seasons. Although the Hornets have never won the league title, they finished runner up to Liverpool in 1983 under Graham Taylor, who later became the England manager.

Leeds reached the May 21 playoff final at the Millennium Stadium by beating Preston 2-0 on Monday to advance 3-1 overall.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal and Manchester United edged newly crowned Scottish league champion Celtic 1-0 in a friendly game to celebrate the career of Roy Keane.

Before a crowd of 69,591 at Old Trafford, including an estimated 23,000 from Celtic, Keane played the first half in the green and white stripes of his current club. Then he changed into the red shirt of United, where he played 12 seasons and helped win seven Premier League titles and four FA Cups. He missed out on the 1999 European Champions League final triumph because of suspension.

Moving to Celtic in January, he helped the Hoops win regain the Scottish Premier League title from Rangers.

American goalkeeper Tim Howard is moving from Manchester United to Everton on loan next season.

Howard, who has played 77 times in three seasons for United after arriving from the Metrostars of Major League Soccer, lost his starting place to Dutch international Edwin van der Sar. He played in six games this season, only one in the Premier League.

Howard's move to Everton, announced by both clubs Tuesday, should give him more Premier League appearances. Although Everton also has Richard Wright as a goalkeeper, Nigel Martyn is struggling to recover from injury.

Howard was one of three goalkeepers selected last week for the US World Cup squad.

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