Watford FC are heading into their first FA Cup Final since 1984 as they completed a near-impossible comeback against Wolves in the semi-final today (Sunday, April 7).
Wembley Stadium was electric as around 80,000 fans watched the two Premier League sides fight it out for a chance to take on Manchester City in the final.
It was a tight first half as both teams struggled to find a rhythm on the big occasion. It took 36 minutes for Wolves to break the deadlock through their right-back, Matt Doherty, who latched onto a cross from Jota to head the ball past Heurelho Gomes.
The second half began much like the first, with both teams struggling to make much impact. But 62 minutes in, a moment of brilliance from Wolves striker Raul Jimenez looked to have sealed the deal. The newly-signed forward controlled a cross exquisitely on his chest before volleying it into the back of the net from close range.
It was a time of desperation for Watford, as they swiftly brought the mercurial Gerard Deulofeu on for Will Hughes.
Watford continued to struggle creatively as the clock swiftly ran down, and defeat looked inevitable for Gracia’s men. But the Hornets fought on.
Deulofeu’s energy quickly became a nuisance for Wolves’ defence, and the Spaniard finally broke them down in the 79th minute with a goal of the season contender.
He picked up the ball on the left-hand side of the box and, after pausing briefly, chipped the ball over every defender in the box and straight into the top right corner of John Ruddy’s goal. Game on.
It was a nerve-wracking end to the game for both sides – both showing desperation all over the field. The match reached added time and Watford were still in search a goal to save them from their potential cup woes.
It took captain Troy Deeney to keep the dream alive. In the 92nd minute, Deeney beat Dendoncker to a weak cross in the box and the Wolves man clearly brought him down as he reached for the ball. Penalty to Watford!
There was never any doubt as to who would step up to take it – savior Deeney trod confidently over to the penalty spot, placed the ball down and pelted the penalty down the left – Ruddy guessed the right way but there was simply no stopping the bullet.
The Hornets were buzzing as they went into extra time, and it felt like only a matter of time before they completed their comeback.
Lo and behold, it was Deulofeu who proved a thorn in Wolves’ side yet again. One minute from half time of extra time, the winger exchanged passes with Gray before bursting past Coady on the right of the area and clinically slipping the ball past an outstretched Ruddy, turning the game entirely on its head and writing himself into the club’s history books.
Watford still had a long 15 minutes to go before they could cement their place in the final, and they withheld the pressure expertly to conclude one of the finest days in their history.
The Hornets will face the toughest task imaginable as they take on Premier League champions Manchester City in the FA Cup Final on May 18. Foiling the Blue’s quadruple hopes at Wembley may take a miracle – but Watford have shown they’re capable of those.
Picture courtesy of Watford FC