Gerard Deulofeu’s anger at being named as a substitute fuelled the match-winning display which took Watford into the FA Cup final, according to his manager Javi Gracia.
Deulofeu’s 104th-minute winner completed the Hornets’ comeback after they recovered from going 2-0 down with 11 minutes left to claim a remarkable 3-2 extra-time victory over Wolves at Wembley on Sunday.
The Spaniard’s wonderful chip had kick-started the fightback before Troy Deeney’s injury-time penalty – after the striker was tripped by Leander Dendoncker – brought Watford level in the most dramatic of fashions.
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) April 7, 2019
“I think Gerard was angry when we started to play,” Gracia said. “I like to see the players this way, when they’ve felt angry, to show what they are able to do.
“He helped the team scoring two important goals. The first one was high quality, but it’s not a surprise, I see him in all the training sessions.
“We knew when we started with other players Gerard would be important, I knew it. What I didn’t know was that when we started to play we were losing 2-0.
— Gerard Deulofeu (@gerardeulofeu) April 7, 2019
“All the players show they deserve to play and it’s not easy to choose the moments for them.”
Goals from Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez had put Wolves in total control and on the brink of their first FA Cup final in 59 years.
Doherty’s 36th-minute header opened the scoring and Jimenez’s close-range finish just after the hour mark doubled their lead, but they had no answer as Watford hauled themselves back into the contest.
Jimenez celebrated by pulling on a wrestling-style mask, an act which drew a bruising response from Deeney after the match.
After watching a replay of the celebration on beIN Sports, Deeney said: “I’m glad he put that mask on – he could wear it out now as well, now he’s a loser. So, enjoy the mask – we got the victory.
“He’s a top, top player. It was a great finish, but I didn’t see the mask thing. I’m quite happy I only saw it now because I probably would have lost my head if I saw that.
“I think you’ve got to wear the mask and do all that stuff when you know you’re going to win the game.”
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 7, 2019
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo admitted his side blew their chance.
He said: “It’s a tough moment of real pain and disappointment.
“The feeling is we had it. It went away from us, we have to look at it, we have to realise in the last minute of the game we should manage better.
.@Nuno‘s verdict on a heartbreaking afternoon at Wembley.
— Wolves (@Wolves) April 7, 2019
“It’s pain and silence (in the dressing room) of course. All that we’ve done, the tough times we have had to reach Wembley, now it’s over. We face it as a group.
“Every challenge we have it’s up to us to work on it. Even though we are in real pain, we are conscious we should have done better.
“It’s difficult to face Watfor. Congratulations to them, but we should have done better. Nothing is going to change. We have to realise it. We had it.”