Watford seal FA Cup Final spot after thrilling extra-time comeback win over Wolves

Sunday 07 Apr 2019
Watford skipper Troy Deeney celebrates his stoppage time penalty to take the game to extra time

Watford sealed their place in the Emirates FA Cup Final after a thrilling comeback and 3-2 extra-time win over Wolves. 

Javi Gracia’s side looked down and out with just over ten minutes remaining, after finding themselves two goals down at Wembley to an exuberant Wolves outfit.

But the introduction by Watford of Gerard Deulofeu from the bench changed the game, as the fleet-footed Spaniard turned the contest on its head.

The former Barcelona winger scored an exquisite first goal to kick-off the comeback, before slotting home a winner in the first half of extra time to seal a first FA Cup Final appearance for Watford since 1984.

It had all looked so unlikely too, after Matt Doherty had headed Wolves in front in the first half before Raul Jimenez doubled their advantage just after the hour mark.

Super sub Gerard Deulofeu slots home Watford's winning goal in extra time

And Nuno Espirito Santo’s team had started well, coming within a few feet of taking the lead after just 22 seconds when Diogo Jota flashed a shot narrowly wide of the post.

Joao Moutinho then showed a glimpse of his set-piece ability in the fifth minute when his free-kick cleared the wall but whistled just over the bar.

Watford soon found their feet though and for the majority of the first half, enjoyed the better of the possession and should have taken the lead just after the half-hour mark.

Hornets skipper and talisman Troy Deeney won possession outside the area and floated a fine cross into the area, which Andre Gray ghosted onto, only to lift his effort over the bar with John Ruddy caught in the middle.

They were made to pay for that five minutes later, when Moutinho’s quick-thinking saw him play a short corner to Jonny Otto, who weighed up a perfect cross for the onrushing Doherty to meet at the far post and send one half of Wembley into delirium.

Matt Doherty heads Wolves into a first-half lead at Wembley

Wolves knew they needed a second, and it arrived after the break when Moutinho played a quick free-kick, this time out to Doherty on the right.

His first-time cross picked out Jimenez at the far post and the Mexican expertly took the ball on his chest before swivelling to fire past Gomes and double their advantage.

The celebration even caught the eye, with Jimenez unearthing a Wolves-branded Mexican wrestling mask from behind the goal as they took what they thought was a major step towards the Final.

Wolves striker Raul Jimenez celebrates putting his side 2-0 up, but their joy was short-lived

But Watford weren’t finished and with Deulofeu promptly introduced, they found a lifeline in the most sublime fashion with just over ten minutes to go as the substitute somehow executed a looping shot over Ruddy and into the top corner from inside the area.

Naturally, Watford forced Wolves further back as they began to exert pressure in search of a last-gasp equaliser.

It paid off too, with the game into stoppage time when Deeney was clattered by Leander Dendocker in the box, with referee Michael Oliver pointing straight to the spot.

Deeney stepped up and made no mistake, blasting powerfully past Ruddy to send the game into extra time.

Deeney blasts home from the spot to send the game to extra time at Wembley

With Wolves in shock, Watford emerged after the re-start with a spring in their step and it was no surprise when they edged ahead, as Deeney and Gray linked up well to set Deulofeu clear.

He took a touch, before placing a low shot past Ruddy to seal the tie and his side’s return to Wembley and a meeting with Manchester City on Saturday 18 May.

Watford: 1 Heurelho Gomes, 6 Adrian Mariappa, 9 Troy Deeney (c), 15 Craig Cathcart, 16 Abdoulaye Doucoure, 18 Andre Gray, 19 Will Hughes, 21 Kiko Femenia, 25 Jose Holebas, 29 Etienne Capoue, 37 Robero Perayra.

Substitutes: 7 Gerard Deulofeu for Hughes 66, 11 Adam Masina for Holebas 98, 2 Daryl Janmaat for Femenia 108, 12 Ken Sema for Deulofeu 112

Substitutes not used: 26 Ben Foster, 20 Domingos Quina, 27 Christian Kabasele.

Watford head coach: Javi Gracia

Goals: Gerard Deulofeu 78, 104, Troy Deeney 90+4 (pen)

Cautions: Craig Cathcart 55, Jose Holebas 61

Wolverhampton Wanderers: 21 John Ruddy, 2 Matt Doherty, 8 Ruben Neves, 9 Raul Jimenez, 15 Wily Boly, 16 Conor Coady (c), 18 Diogo Jota, 19 Jonny Otto, 27 Romain Saiss, 28 Joao Moutinho, 32 Leander Dendoncker.

Substitutes: 5 Ryan Bennett for Neves 86, 7 Ivan Cavaleiro for Jota 88, 37 Adama Traore for Moutinho 102, 29 Ruben Vinagre for Otto 106

Substitutes not used: 31 Will Norris, 10 Helder Costa, 17 Morgan Gibbs-White.

Head coach: Nunio Espirito Santo

Goals: Matt Doherty 25, Raul Jimenez 61

Cautions: Romain Saiss 10, Ruben Neves 25

Attendance: 80,092

By Nicholas Veevers at Wembley Stadium connected by EE