FA Cup is a tournament of upsets.
The oldest soccer tournament of the world is known for producing nail-biting affairs, and Sunday’s semi-final between Watford and Wolves proved to be no different. Wolves, under the able stewardship of manager Nuno Santo, seemed to be cruising to their first FA Cup final appearance in 59 years when a long-throw fell for Watford winger Gerard Deulofeu. The forward took a touch before chipping the ball into the far corner to set up a frenetic final 10 minutes of the game.
The Wolves seemed to have done enough to secure their place in the final against Manchester City but Watford captain Troy Deeney had other ideas. Leander Dendoncker put in a foot through Deeney in the final minutes of the game, giving the referee no option but to award the Hornets with a penalty. Deeney stepped up and scored the second goal for his team taking the semi-final to extra time.
In the first-half of extra-time, it was Deulofeu again who finished superbly once his strike partner had played him through from a Deeney flick-on. Watford supporters, who only a few minutes before seemed to have given up, erupted in jubilation.
FT: Watford 3-2 Wolves
Watford are into the FA Cup final.
A moment Hornets fans will never forget.
2-0 down with 11 minutes left to 3-2 winners.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 7, 2019
Such a defeat would be difficult for anyone to take, but for the Wolves, so long considered the underdogs in a match of such proportion, it was a particularly difficult pill to swallow. Speaking after the game, manager Nuno Santo said that his players were in “real pain” for having let the opportunity to appear in a FA Cup final slip away in the final moments, according to Sky Sports.
“We’re sad, the players are and the fans are. It’s a tough moment of real pain and disappointment,” Santo said.
“There’s pain in the dressing room, silence of course because at the same time, with all we’ve done in this competition to reach Wembley we’ve been proud, and now it’s over we face it like a group. There’s still a long way to go.”
For Watford, however, it was a game which will give them much belief. Their win means that the Hornets will appear in an FA Cup final for the first time in 35 years against Manchester City, who beat Brighton 1-0 earlier to book their place in the final. Although the English champions are gunning for an unprecedented quadruple, Watford will believe they can beat anyone after clawing back to complete such a stunning comeback.