'Special' Watford can beat City: Troy

Watford winger Gerard Deulofeu holding off Conor Coady to score past Wolves goalkeeper John Ruddy in extra time of their FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Sunday. Watford's 3-2 win earned them a final showdown against Manchester City on May 18.
Watford winger Gerard Deulofeu holding off Conor Coady to score past Wolves goalkeeper John Ruddy in extra time of their FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Sunday. Watford's 3-2 win earned them a final showdown against Manchester City on May 18.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

After dramatic semis win, skipper believes underdogs can work FA Cup magic in final

LONDON • Despite English bookmakers installing Manchester City as the 7/19 odds-on favourites ahead of the FA Cup final on May 18, Troy Deeney has the utmost faith his Watford side are "going to show we can beat them".

After achieving mission improbable on Sunday to win a semi-final tie that had looked lost, coming from two goals down to oust Wolves 3-2 in extra time, the captain has every reason to believe the magic of the Cup is very much alive and well this season.

Hailing his team as "special", the club's longest-serving player since joining in 2010 told BT Sport: "We know City are a real formidable team, one of the best in Europe, but it's a one-off game.

"We're coming in with belief, we're not naive enough to think it's going to be easy, but we know this hard work can take us a long way.

"We're not the most talented, but the hard work, the desire, you see it there."

The burly striker got the crucial equaliser in stoppage time, keeping his nerves to ram home his penalty, which was awarded after he was brought down in the box by Belgium defender Leander Dendoncker.

The fightback on Sunday was, however, sparked by Spain winger Gerard Deulofeu, who came off the bench to score a brace, and Deeney paid tribute to his teammate, saying: "Two goals down, many teams would have called it a day. But we kept going, brought the little man on, (he) added his bit of magic and the rest is just hard work."

Ireland wing-back Matt Doherty's first-half opener and a second-half strike from Mexico striker Raul Jimenez, who Deeney called a "loser" for wearing a luchador wrestling mask to celebrate, had seemingly set Wolves on the path to their first FA Cup final since 1960 in a full-blooded tie.

However, it is the Hornets who will head to Wembley for their first Cup final since 1984, with manager Javi Gracia indebted to Deulofeu for taking his "anger" out on Wolves after being dropped from the first XI.

The Spaniard said: "Gerard was angry when we started to play, but I like to see my players with that attitude, when they are angry, to show what they are able to do.

"We knew before the game that Gerard would be important during the game, when more spaces were created.

"His first goal was high quality, but it wasn't a surprise to me because I see him in training."

While the victory sparked joyous scenes among the Watford players and their fans, Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo could only reflect on what might have been.

Admitting it was "a moment of real pain", he lamented the way his team failed to manage the closing minutes of normal time, adding: "It's disappointment, sadness. We had it and it went away from us.

"We realised that extra time would be tougher for us because the momentum was with Watford. What had just happened was difficult to erase from our minds."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2019, with the headline ''Special' Watford can beat City: Troy'. Print Edition | Subscribe