Watford progressed to the FA Cup final with a sensational 3-2 win over Wolves last weekend having come back from a two-goal deficit to equalise in the dying seconds and then take a decisive lead in extra time.
The Hornets looked down and out when Raul Jimenez acrobatically fired home his side’s second in the 62nd minute and even he must have thought that his strike would see Nuno Espirito Santo’s side through, as he pulled on a customised luchador mask.
Gerard Deulofeu had a point to prove though after coming off the bench and quickly brought his side back into the game with a special goal, before Troy Deeney cast fans’ minds back to 2013 with a 94th minute penalty to ensure the game went to the two-hour mark.
The Watford skipper is no stranger to producing semi-final heroics having been crucial in the Hornets’ incredible Championship play-off victory over Leicester in the 2012/13 season.
The Foxes led 1-0 on aggregate prior to the crunch clash on 12th May 2013 but Matej Vydra levelled 15 minutes in with a stunning, left-footed volley against the run of play, before Leicester’s David Nugent put the visitors ahead once again just four minutes later.
Watford might have scored a stunning opener but they were far from their best in the first half and Gianfranco Zola was desperate for a response after the break – the Italian got exactly that.
The Hornets were able to string some passes and moves together and looked threatening when they got forward, with Cristian Battocchio and Almen Abdi both going agonisingly close to an equaliser. Fortunately, the pair’s blushes were saved by EFL Player of the Year Vydra.
The now-Burnley man combined well with Deeney before slotting clinically into the bottom corner. From that point on, it looked like only one team was going to win it, as Zola’s men probed and probed, although disaster struck in injury time.
Defender Marco Cassetti, who had teed up Vydra for his wonder-volley, was controversially adjudged to have fouled Anthony Knockaert, who picked himself back up to take the resulting spot-kick.
The Frenchman took a number of deep, heavy breaths before running up to hit the ball… straight at Watford custodian Manuel Almunia, who then recovered to block Knockaert’s rebound before hoofing away from danger and so began the famous Hornets counter attack.
Wolves Fan TV place the blame for Wolves’ FA Cup semi-final collapse on John Ruddy in the video below…
Fernando Forestieri was fed through down the wing and crossed towards Jonathan Hogg at the back post who, instead of going for goal himself, intelligently nodded down to an onrushing Deeney. He nearly took the net off with his half-volley, thus putting Watford in the play-off final and that jaw-dropping game into the history books.
The Hornets would go on to lose to Crystal Palace in the final but have been able to battle their way into the Premier League, where they have established themselves as one of the best of the rest, since. Will Javi Gracia’s men do the impossible against Manchester City on 18th May?