The FA Cup Magic vs quadruple dream…We’ll see about it

The Watford vs Wolverhampton semi finals match will go down as one of the great FA Cup games owing to the fact on how it was calmly played and the comeback that Watford gave their rivals.

A breathless classic which had a little bit of everything and ended with one of the most incredible comebacks you are never likely going to witness.

Watford somehow clawed victory from the jaws of defeat with supersub Gerard Deulofeu providing the inspiration and magic from the bench to break Wolves’ hearts.

It was an incredible fight back, epitomised by Troy Deeney, the club’s captain and talisman, stepping up in the fourth minute of injury time to smash home a penalty to take it to extra time and victory.

They fought, they gave everything, both teams battling to reach the final and proving the world’s oldest and most famous cup competition is alive and well.

There are debates about the cup losing its magic, the semi-finals being played at Wembley has unquestionably detracted from the final but this was a thriller deserving of the biggest stage.

The 80,092 fans in the stadium went through the complete range of emotions from despair, ecstasy and tension as, once again, VAR more than played its part.

At the final whistle, the yellow and black supporters in the Watford end celebrated wildly even if a few had gone home before the end thinking it was all over, being 2-0 down with just 11 minutes left.

In contrast, Wolves boss Nuno slumped to his seat in the dug-out, all his hopes of leading the club to their first FA Cup final in 59 years gone amid tears and heartbreak.

This is Watford’s first FA Cup final since 1984 and now only the small matter of quadruple-chasing Manchester City stand in their way of their first major trophy.

But when they show courage – or perhaps we should say cojones – like this then no-one should bet against them.

What a fabulous advert for the job that Javi Gracia has done at Watford, the club which used to have a revolving door when it came to managers but now have one who looks to be taking them places.

Watford somehow found an extra layer of energy, an extra gear of quality and Deulofeu’s first goal to haul his team back into the game was magical, a world class goal which left everyone wondering how on earth he did it.

Wolves, of course, will be filled with regret. In truth, Watford actually started better but it was Wolves who were more clinical, they took charge after 36 minutes when Matt Doherty headed them in front.

Joao Moutinho’s short corner found Diogo Jota and he put over a teasing cross, Abdoulaye Doucoure switched off and Doherty ghosted in to head home his fourth FA Cup goal this season.

Wolves made it two after 62 minutes. Jose Holebas was booked as he conceded a free kick, Moutinho rolled it to Doherty and his deep cross put it on a plate for Raul Jimenez to chest it down and then smash home.

Jimenez, who completed a £30m permanent switch this week, ran behind the goal, found a Wolves mask which he put on to keep everyone entertained while VAR checked it in the background and ruled it was just onside.

Wolves were on their way. But it changed when Deulofeu came on after 66 minutes. The ex-Barcelona academy graduate showed his class by conjuring up a goal from nothing. From inside the box, he flicked his foot with no back lift and curled a magical chip into the top corner.

It should be remembered as one of the great Wembley FA Cup goals. It gave Watford hope. They pressed forward but time was running out when, from nothing, Leander Dendoncker made a needless challenge on Deeney and referee Michael Oliver pointed straight to the spot.

The VAR reviewed the decision and confirmed it was a penalty. Up stepped Deeney and slammed home the spot kick. Deeney once accused Arsenal of lacking cojones after a game at Vicarage Road but showed plenty himself. What a moment.

It was also a good game for VAR as it ran smoothly, reviewed decisions – two red card calls in the second half which hardly anyone spotted – and kept the fans informed on the big screens.

But the crowning moment came in the 104th minute. Andre Gray’s flick released Deulofeu and the brilliant Spaniard raced away, held off Conor Coady and buried a shot in the far corner.

Deulofeu came off injured himself in extra time but his job was done, Watford celebrated, this was a glorious day up there with anything the club has achieved in its proud history.

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