Watford’s dreams of reaching their second FA Cup final were shattered after losing 2-1 to Crystal Palace in their semi-final at Wembley.

The Hornets got off to a terrible start after conceding the opening goal in the sixth minute. A Palace corner was flicked on and Yannick Bolasie pounced at the far post to nod in from close range.

But Quique Sanchez Flores’ side equalised nine minutes into the second half when Troy Deeney powered a header home in front of the ecstatic Watford fans.

Alan Pardew’s team responded strongly and struck the winner in the 61st minute when Connor Wickham guided his header into the corner of the net to send Palace through to the final against Manchester United.

The Hornets made eight changes from the team beaten at West Ham on Wednesday. Costel Pantilimon continued his run in the competition with Heurelho Gomes on the bench.

Allan Nyom, Miguel Britos and Nathan Ake returned to the defence in place of Sebastian Prodl, Jose Holebas and Juan Carlos Paredes.

Etienne Capoue and Ben Watson were recalled to the centre of midfield while Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo returned to lead the attack.

Mario Suarez and Valon Behrami were named on the bench along with Adlene Guedioura while Nordin Amrabat was suspended after his red card at Upton Park.

Crystal Palace made six changes to the team beaten at Manchester United with Bolasie recalled into the attack behind Wickham with Emmanuel Adebayor dropping to the bench.

The Eagles made a lively start and grabbed the opening goal inside the first six minutes of the tie. Yohan Cabaye’s corner was flicked on by Damien Delaney and Bolasie headed home at the far post.

It was a hammer blow for the Hornets with the early initiative going to Pardew’s side at Wembley.

Watford had their first meaningful effort after 15 minutes when Ighalo knocked the ball back for Deeney but the captain’s strike flew over Wayne Hennessy’s crossbar.

Nyom sent in a dangerous cross which was casually diverted round the post by Joel Ward as the Hornets stepped up the pressure.

Crystal Palace went close through a curling strike from Cabaye but Pantilimon got a strong hand on his punch to clear the danger.

The France international midfielder had another opportunity from the left-hand side but his free-kick was comfortably held by the Watford keeper.

Flores was forced into a change on the half-hour mark when Capoue failed to recover from a collision with Bolasie and he was stretchered off with Suarez replacing the midfielder.

The Hornets almost created an opening for Ighalo after a flick-on by Deeney but Hennessey reacted quickest to rush off his line and gather the ball.

Jose Manuel Jurado was looking the most threatening player for Watford and he cut inside but his shot was blocked by a defender.

Jurado received a booking shortly afterwards after the midfielder was penalised for a late challenge on Wilfried Zaha.

The Hornets had a fortunate escape before the break when Zaha’s cross was handled in the area by Ake but referee Craig Pawson did not award a penalty.

Palace appealed for a penalty at the start of the second half after a clash between Wickham and Britos but the referee was unmoved.

Deeney had a half chance from a cross but his header from distance looped over the Palace bar.

Pardew’s side almost extended their lead through Bolasie but his low strike was blocked by Pantilimon’s legs and deflected out for a corner.

Scott Dann was booked for a challenge on Ighalo outside the area but Watson’s low free-kick was deflected out for a corner.

Jurado sent in the delivery and Deeney climbed highest to head past Hennessey and spark scenes of delirium in the Watford end.

The Hornets skipper ran to the corner flag and punched it in celebration after bringing his side level at Wembley.

Flores immediately made his second change as he brought on Guedioura in place of Almen Abdi.

Palace regrouped and needed just six minutes to reclaim the lead. Papa Souare delivered the cross and Wickham got above Ake to direct his header past Pantilimon.

The Eagles made their first change when James McArthur replaced the excellent Bolasie with just over 15 minutes remaining.

Jurado sent in a dangerous cross for Deeney but the striker could only head back across goal for Hennessey to claim the ball.

Palace broke quickly and Cabaye had an opportunity on the edge of the area but his weak shot was easily saved.

The Eagles had an opportunity to clinch victory on the counter-attack when Zaha took the ball into the area but he failed to get his shot away and Nyom managed to clear the danger.

Ighalo was a peripheral figure during the game but the striker had a big chance in the last ten minutes when Deeney knocked the ball on but he blasted over the crossbar.

The Hornets made their final substitution with Ikechi Anya thrown on for Nyom in search of a late equaliser.

Jurado had a half-chance from outside the box when the ball bounced to him but the Spaniard’s half-volley was comfortably saved by Hennessey.

Palace made their final change with Adebayor replacing the impressive Wickham for the closing minutes of the match.

Zaha again spurned the chance to seal the victory when he fired his shot from the edge of the area into the side netting.

There were five minutes of injury time and the Hornets almost snatched an equaliser through Guedioura but his half-volley bounced agonisingly just past the post.

It was Watford's final chance of the match and some of the players sunk to the ground in disappointment after the final whistle blew to signal the end of their memorable run in the competition.

Watford: Pantilimon; Nyom (Anya, 82), Britos, Cathcart, Ake; Abdi (Guedioura, 55), Capoue (Suarez, 31), Watson, Jurado; Deeney, Ighalo

Subs not used: Gomes, Prodl, Behrami, Berghuis

Crystal Palace: Hennessey; Ward, Dann, Delaney, Soare; Puncheon (Sakho, 80), Cabaye, Jedinak, Zaha; Bolasie (McArthur, 73); Wickham (Adebayor, 85)

Subs not used: Speroni, Kelly, Ledley, Gayle

Referee: Craig Pawson