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The 'Gerard Deulofeu paradox' is football’s new philosophical brainteaser

If a super-sub comes on and wins it for you, does that mean they should've been on from the start?

An image of Kevin Beirne
Kevin Beirne
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It was another wild weekend of football around the country with incredible comebacks as well as the regular, general nonsense that seems to accompany every round of fixtures. The latter is of course, a reminder of why we love the sport.

So let’s start of with the game of the weekend at Wembley...

1) Heroes... and Leander

Sunday was a great day for fans of the phrase “the magic of the cup” as Watford came from 2-0 down to beat Wolves 3-2 in extra-time and book their place in the FA Cup final.

The game looked lost for the Hornets until Troy Deeney was taken down by Leander Dendoncker to win a 94th-minute penalty, which he duly converted to force extra-time.

But the real hero for Watford was Gerard Deulofeu. The Spaniard came on in the 66th minute with his team trailing and scored two world-class goals to first kick-start and then complete the comeback for his side.

All of which raises the question: why wasn’t he starting in the first place? And would it have been better or worse for Watford to have given him a go from the start?

Let’s just hope that the Watford fans who left Wembley early don’t regret it too much.

2) The man in the mask

Before Watford’s incredible turnaround, Wolves were cruising thanks to goals from Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez.

With Wrestlemania taking place later that night, it was fitting that the Mexican striker paid tribute to WWE superstar Sin Cara by donning a special Wolves-edition of his mask.

And the wrestler was only too happy to see it happen.

3) Brighton’s Wembley adventure

Manchester City emerged victorious from the first FA Cup semi-final of the weekend on Saturday but Brighton fans made sure that their presence was known in their own special way.

Although it seems that not everyone was so excited about the big day out at Wembley.

4) Jamie Vardy’s stat party

He will always be best-known for firing Leicester City to their shock Premier League title win three years ago but Jamie Vardy’s still etching himself into the history books week after week.

The 32-year-old scored twice on Saturday as the Foxes beat the already-relegated Huddersfield Town, with his double highlighting just how much the Terriers have struggled this season.

The goals further added to Vardy’s legacy as he has given hope to potential late-bloomers all over the world.

5) What a load of…

It’s been a tough season for Fort William. After starting the season on negative points for fielding ineligible players last year, the Scottish Highland League side have just two draws and no wins in the current campaign.

In fact, they are without a win since April 2017 and went into the weekend bottom of the table with negative seven points and a goal difference of around minus 200 from their opening 30 games of the season.

Despite these struggles, their players still showed up to take on Nairn County on Saturday, only to find a whole host of new problems before the match even began.

Unfortunately for Fort William, the match went ahead, with Nairn imposing a 6-2 defeat on their hosts.

6) Triple captain fantastic

Liverpool retook the lead at the top of the Premier League table with Jordan Henderson grabbing the third in a 3-1 win over Southampton on Friday night.

It was the Reds skipper’s first goal in over 18 months and it was clear that he wasn’t quite sure how to react.

Henderson also grabbed his first assist of the season, giving him the kind of performance that caught everyone by surprise. Well, nearly everyone.

7) Speaking of trebles

Not only did that win put Liverpool back to the top of the table but it means the Reds now have more points than Manchester United earned when they won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble 20 years ago.

A fact that will do little, if anything, to diminish one of the greatest ever achievements in English football.

8) Is that IT?

You could be forgiven for missing the bottom of the Championship clash between Bolton Wanderers and Ipswich Town on Saturday.

The game very nearly didn’t go ahead after a “critical failure of the stadium’s IT system” but was eventually given the all-clear as Ipswich snuffed out Bolton’s slim hopes of avoiding relegation.

But not before fans of hashtag-based jokes were treated to an instant classic of the genre.

9) Milivojevic hits the spot

There are few men as deadly from 12 yards as Luka Milivojevic.

The Crystal Palace midfielder broke Newcastle hearts at the weekend as he buried a late penalty to give the Eagles all three points.

It was his 10th penalty of the campaign, putting him within one of the all-time record and making him responsible for roughly one eighth of all penalties scored this season.

Not a bad birthday present, eh?

10) Rooney’s red

Rooney was guilty of flying into a challenge over the weekend, and was given his marching orders in action for DC United.

After initially being awarded a yellow card, the referee changed his mind after consulting with VAR and showed Rooney a red, with the drama of the situation only adding to the proceedings.