Kevin Phillips ended his personal Play-off final curse to hit the winner as Crystal Palace won promotion to the Barclays Premier League with a victory against Watford.
The 39-year-old substitute struck a penalty in the opening period of extra-time to send Palace back up to English football's top-tier after an eight-year absence.
Unlike Wembley's Champions League final two days ago the Championship equivalent was a dismal contest with few flashes of genuine class from either side. The exuberant Wilfried Zaha was watchable yet often maddened manager Ian Holloway with his final product.
Palace worked their goalkeeper Julián Speroni more rigorously with back passes than Watford's attackers but his opposite number Almunia pulled off three alert stops from Stuart O'Keefe and Aaron Wilbraham, twice, in the second 45.
The cagey occasion led to extra-time for a second-tier Play-off final for the first time since 2002, and in the opening three minutes Speroni denied Troy Deeney a certain opener from inside the six-yard box.
Phillips celebrates his extra-time penalty
Despite his inconsistency, Zaha had toyed with Marco Cassetti throughout the afternoon and minutes after the Italian committed a foul on the 20-year-old he did so again in the penalty area. Referee Martin Atkinson immediately signalled a penalty with seconds left of the opening 15 minutes.
Phillips, who scored for Sunderland in Sunderland's enthralling 1998 final defeat and three times a Play-off final loser, smashed an emphatic spot-kick past Almunia for the eventual winner.
Watford's Fernando Forestieri saw a superb goal-bound effort get cleared Joel Ward heads off the line at the death as Palace held on.