Watford have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals for the 11th time in their history thanks to a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers.
Etienne Capoue scored the only goal of what was a fairly evenly-matched game just before half-time.
But what did we learn?
1. Heurelho Gomes proves he’s still got it
Heurelho Gomes has been a faithful servant for Watford since joining the club in 2014 from Tottenham. The Brazilian did well as number one goalkeeper throughout the years but the arrival of Ben Foster last summer saw Gomes drop down to second choice, and rightly so.
Foster has been excellent for Watford this season, making numerous saves to earn the Hornets valuable points, demoted Gomes to cup appearances.
But Gomes, celebrating his 38th birthday on Friday night, proved he is more than capable of deputising, helping Watford through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
The Brazilian only really had to make one save, tipping Nakhi Wells’ effort around the post just before half-time, but his confidence in claiming crosses (four in total) was key.
However, there was some fortune too with QPR sending a handful of good chances either high or wide without testing the goalkeeper.
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) February 15, 2019
2. Luke Freeman shows his Arsenal class
Despite the first half being fairly evenly matched in terms of the number of chances, QPR fans may have felt hard done by in going into the break a goal down.
The Championship side played their game patiently, looking to exploit the wide areas of the Loftus Road pitch – something Luke Freeman had a lot of success doing.
Freeman, who holds the record for the youngest player to ever feature in the FA Cup having come on for Gillingham against Barnet in 2007 aged 15 years and 233 days, was signed by Arsenal as a 17-year-old in 2008.
And, although Freeman did not get a chance to represent the Gunners in four years at the club, his ability proves he did not waste the lessons imparted on him.
The midfielder was a class above on Friday night, showing excellent first touches, good crosses and brilliant reading of the game and its spaces. Freeman should have had at least a hat-trick of assists in the first half alone but for more finishes or sloppy offsides from his forwards.
Everything attacking QPR did came through Freeman one way or another, but it was not to be for the west London club whose FA Cup run came to an end.
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3. Watford dare to dream
Some say the FA Cup isn’t being taken seriously enough by those outside the Premier League’s top six, but it seems no one has passed that message on to Watford.
The Hornets are now just one win away from a place in the FA Cup semi-final and, should the draw go their way, Javi Gracia’s men are in with a chance.
Only Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea are higher ranked than Watford among the remaining teams in the FA Cup this season. And while Man City are expected to ease into the quarter-finals facing Newport on Saturday, one of United or Chelsea will fall with the pair clashing on Monday.
That means, by the time the draw is complete, Watford will be at least the third-highest ranked team in the FA Cup.
Currently seventh in the Premier League, some teams may have decided to call their season over as it stands, but for Gracia and Watford the FA Cup is an achievable goal. The Hornets were semi-finalists in 2015/16 but have only reached the final of the FA Cup on one occasion.
Time for that to change?
4. VAR conversations rear their head again
Once again, the use of VAR in the fifth round of the FA Cup has been spread out with some matches blessed with the technology and others being played in caveman-like circumstances.
QPR’s game against Watford on Friday night was one of the latter instances and, for the most part, it was not missed. That was until the 72nd minute when Troy Deeney’s through-ball found Andre Gray who had looked to have timed his run before rounding the goalkeeper and tapping into the empty net.
Gray’s effort was ruled out for offside, with the flag going up almost instantly as he got his first touch on the ball causing the QPR defenders to stop. But, were VAR in effect, play would have gone on and the decision would have been looked at after Gray had scored.
And replays showed the decision was very tight, and potentially wrong – something which could have been cleared up by VAR, resulting in the correct call being made.
VAR still has its critics, as shown by the Champions League ties in midweek, but with the FA Cup the bigger problem now is the unfairness of its distribution. Either every tie should have access to it, or none at all.
5. QPR’s best FA Cup run in 22 years comes to an end
While Watford fans will be celebrating over the weekend, for QPR the defeat brought an end to the club’s best FA Cup run in 22 years.
— QPR FC (@QPR) February 15, 2019
QPR fans have had to deal with mediocrity for a fair few years now, especially in the FA Cup. Prior to this season, the Rs had gone out of the FA Cup at the third round in 12 of the past 14 campaigns, only reaching the fourth round twice.
The last time QPR had reached the fifth round, before this year, came back in the 1996/97 season when they were knocked out by Wimbledon.
Things haven’t been going too well for QPR in the Championship this season, with the club currently 18th, but the FA Cup brought a welcome distraction and dreams of a date at Wembley given the falling of some of the big boys.
But it was not meant to be and now Steve McClaren must return his eyes to the league and West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.