The FA Cup - Semi-Final
Watford3Wolves2

Watford 3-2 Wolves: Deulofeu inspires stunning comeback to reach FA Cup final

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Highlights: Watford 3-2 Wolves (aet)

Gerard Deulofeu delivered a sensational display after coming on as substitute to inspire Watford's dramatic comeback from two goals down to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers after extra time in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

With 11 minutes left, Wolves looked on course for their first FA Cup final since 1960 as they led through Matt Doherty's first-header and Raul Jimenez's superb chest down and volleyed finish.

Deulofeu, the maverick talent who had never quite fulfilled his potential at Barcelona, Everton and AC Milan, was sent on to rescue Watford after that second goal and fulfilled his mission in spectacular style.

He produced an audacious angled flick to give Watford hope and they drew level in injury time as captain Troy Deeney drilled home from the penalty spot after he had been fouled by Leander Dendoncker.

Deulofeu, however, was the catalyst and he showed composure and quality to provide the decisive contribution, steering a finish beyond John Ruddy in the 104th minute to send Watford to their first FA Cup final since 1984; they will meet Manchester City on 18 May.

Deulofeu lights Watford fuse

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'Messi-esque' - Deulofeu scores brilliant FA Cup semi-final goal

Watford, to their eternal credit, never lost hope for one minute of this thrilling FA Cup semi-final even when Wolves looked to have victory in their grasp with a two-goal lead.

They had created chances but needed a spark to give meaning to all their good work - and it was the 25-year-old Spain international Deulofeu who provided it.

Deulofeu was regarded as a teenage superstar in the making at Barcelona but could not deliver in a second spell at the Nou Camp after a fine season on loan at Everton.

He produced occasional flashes of brilliance when he returned to Goodison Park but fell short and made his way to Vicarage Road to have another crack at the Premier League.

Under the careful guidance of manager Javi Gracia, he has hinted at greater consistency - but this was his finest hour in England.

Inevitably, Watford's captain and leader Deeney also made his mark, winning a penalty then showing great nerve to lash his spot-kick past Ruddy.

Watford's fans were a mixture of sheer elation and disbelief - and can now start plotting their return for the FA Cup final.

This was a performance of heart, quality and flashes of brilliance. They were deserved winners.

Wolves left heartbroken

Wolves players react to defeat
Wolves' players looked dejected as Deulofeu scored his second goal to complete the comeback in extra-time

Wolves and their manager Nuno Espirito Santo will be pondering for a very long time how this got away from them - it was heartbreaking for him, his players and the vast old gold following inside Wembley.

They had victory in the palm of their hand but subsided under the late surge of pressure from Watford, fuelled by the brilliance of Deulofeu.

Nuno had taken off the influential Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota late on to try to shore up the victory, a move perhaps understandable at the time but one that left them robbed of their talents during extra-time.

Wolves were flagging and had nothing left to give in this pulsating, magnificent match and all the hard work done in the earlier rounds - when Liverpool and Manchester United were beaten at Molineux - was taken away from them.

They came into this game on the back of six straight wins but defeat came in the most painful of circumstances.

'It happens if you believe' - reaction

Javi Gracia
Watford manager Javi Gracia's decision to bring on Gerard Deulofeu paid off in the second half

Watford manager Javi Gracia, speaking to BBC Sport: "It was very tough. We started playing, working after [the FA Cup win over] Newcastle, after QPR, after Crystal Palace and now after Wolves. Everything was lost - we were able to show our character and at this moment I am very proud of my players.

"You always believe you can score one goal because in all the games this season we have always competed until the end. It wasn't different today. We tried until the end and sometimes it happens if you believe. Today we showed our strength as a squad, our belief. I am very proud."

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo, speaking to BBC Sport: "It was an emotional game. We had it, and it got away from us. It was a sad moment, we cannot hide it. Now it is disappointment and sadness.

"When it comes to four minutes of injury time, we should have possession of the ball. We couldn't handle that and we got punished. We are disappointed. This is football, we must stand again, we have things to fight for, but I am very proud.

"I honestly think we should have done better in the last moments of the game."

Man of the match - Gerard Deulofeu (Watford)

Gerard Deulofeu celebrates
Gerard Deulofeu scored two goals in 46 minutes to inspire Watford's sensational comeback on another dramatic day at Wembley.

Ending a bad streak - the best of the stats

  • Watford have qualified for the FA Cup final for just the second time in their history, having last done so in 1984.
  • It was the first time they won at Wembley since May 1999 (2-0 v Bolton in the second tier play-off final) - they had lost five of their six games in all competitions at the venue before beating Wolves.
  • Since beating Aston Villa in the 1960 FA Cup semi-final, Wolves have been eliminated on each of their past five appearances at this stage of the tournament (1973, 1979, 1981, 1998 and 2019).
  • Watford have won 19 games in all competitions this season; their most as a top-flight club in a single campaign since 1986-87 (23).
  • Deulofeu is the seventh player to score two in an FA Cup semi-final, and the first since Willian for Chelsea in April 2017 (v Spurs).
  • Deeney has scored in both of his FA Cup semi-final appearances - previously doing so against Crystal Palace in April 2016.
  • Wolves' Doherty scored his fourth goal in the FA Cup this season - only Newport striker Padraig Among (five) has netted more in the competition in 2018-19.
  • Jota has been directly involved in 37 goals for Wolves (26 goals and 11 assists), the most of any player since his debut in August 2017.

What's next?

Wolves hope to regain seventh spot in the Premier League when they travel to Southampton on Saturday, 13 April (15:00 BST); Watford host Arsenal on Monday, 15 April (20:00).

Line-ups

Watford

  • 1Gomes
  • 21FemeníaSubstituted forJanmaatat 108'minutes
  • 6Mariappa
  • 15CathcartBooked at 54mins
  • 25HolebasBooked at 61minsSubstituted forMasinaat 98'minutes
  • 19HughesSubstituted forDeulofeuat 66'minutesSubstituted forSemaat 112'minutes
  • 29CapoueBooked at 101mins
  • 37Pereyra
  • 16Doucouré
  • 18Gray
  • 9Deeney

Substitutes

  • 2Janmaat
  • 7Deulofeu
  • 11Masina
  • 12Sema
  • 20Quina
  • 26Foster
  • 27Kabasele

Wolves

  • 21Ruddy
  • 27SaïssBooked at 10mins
  • 16Coady
  • 15Boly
  • 2Doherty
  • 32Dendoncker
  • 8NevesBooked at 25minsSubstituted forBennettat 86'minutes
  • 28João MoutinhoSubstituted forTraoréat 102'minutes
  • 19Castro OttoSubstituted forVinagreat 105'minutes
  • 9Jiménez
  • 18JotaSubstituted forCavaleiroat 89'minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Bennett
  • 7Cavaleiro
  • 10Hélder Costa
  • 17Gibbs-White
  • 29Vinagre
  • 31Norris
  • 37Traoré
Referee:
Michael Oliver
Attendance:
80,092

Match Stats

Home TeamWatfordAway TeamWolves
Possession
Home58%
Away42%
Shots
Home15
Away11
Shots on Target
Home3
Away6
Corners
Home7
Away6
Fouls
Home16
Away11

Live Text

Match ends, Watford 3, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2.

Second Half Extra Time ends, Watford 3, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2.

Offside, Watford. Roberto Pereyra tries a through ball, but Troy Deeney is caught offside.

Foul by Ken Sema (Watford).

Romain Saïss (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Watford. Troy Deeney tries a through ball, but Ken Sema is caught offside.

Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Adrian Mariappa.

Foul by Etienne Capoue (Watford).

Adama Traoré (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Ken Sema replaces Gerard Deulofeu because of an injury.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) because of an injury.

Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Gerard Deulofeu.

Foul by Etienne Capoue (Watford).

Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Daryl Janmaat replaces Kiko Femenía.

Offside, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Ivan Cavaleiro tries a through ball, but Raúl Jiménez is caught offside.

Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Adam Masina.

Foul by Etienne Capoue (Watford).

Adama Traoré (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Second Half Extra Time begins Watford 3, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2.

Substitution

Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Rúben Vinagre replaces Jonny.

First Half Extra Time ends, Watford 3, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2.

Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Adrian Mariappa.

Goal!

Goal! Watford 3, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Andre Gray.

Substitution

Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Adama Traoré replaces João Moutinho.

Booking

Etienne Capoue (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Etienne Capoue (Watford).

Leander Dendoncker (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Adam Masina replaces José Holebas because of an injury.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match José Holebas (Watford) because of an injury.

Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Heurelho Gomes.

Attempt saved. Jonny (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Raúl Jiménez.

First Half Extra Time begins Watford 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Watford 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2.

Goal!

Goal! Watford 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2. Troy Deeney (Watford) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the top left corner.

Penalty Watford. Troy Deeney draws a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty conceded by Leander Dendoncker (Wolverhampton Wanderers) after a foul in the penalty area.

goal

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