Football Features

Watford 3-2 Wolves: Every player rated as Deulofeu seals Hornets’ FA Cup final berth

By Ben Green

Published: 18:52, 7 April 2019

Watford have booked their place in the FA Cup final and will meet Man City next month after fending off Wolves 3-2 at Wembley.

After a tense start to the match, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side struck first, and opened the scoring in the 36th minute after Matt Doherty converted a header from a scintillating Diogo Jota delivery.

And the West Midlands club would soon double their advantage in the second half when Raul Jimenez chested down and rifled past Heurelho Gomes. The Hornets struck back with a sensational curling effort from Gerard Deulofeu and Troy Deeney soon took the tie to extra-time after converting a penalty in the dying embers of normal time.

With the match finely poised and heading towards a penalty shoot-out, substitute Deulofeu netted his second of the match and took the tie beyond Wolves’ reach.

It was a riveting affair in the FA Cup semi-final, but how did the players rate?

Watford

Heurelho Gomes – 6 – Made a number of key saves to keep his side in the game and commanded his box well, but failed to keep out Doherty and Jimenez in regulation time.

Kiko Femenia – 6 – Provided a useful outlet down the byline and tried to get forward where possible. He failed to have the desired effect his right-back counterpart had on proceedings – in terms of a goalscoring threat – but was a sturdy component of Gracia’s XI.

Adrian Mariappa – 5 – Tasked with the ominous challenge of trying to contain Wolves’ dynamic duo in the final third, Mariappa stood up well to the task in the first half, but he waned after the restart as Jimenez and Jota ran riot.

Craig Cathcart – 6 – Had more of an impact than Mariappa, producing more interceptions and clearances than his centre-back partner, but failed to keep the Wolves front two quiet for the majority of the match.

Jose Holebas – 5 – A performance similar to that of Femenia, the Greece international was willing to get forward and offer support to his attacking teammates, but struggled to suppress the attacking threat of Jota, who drew him into a foul and booking.

Etienne Capoue – 7 – Had more touches than any player in the opening 90 minutes. The Frenchman was an ever-present in the heart of midfield and calmed the match down when his side looked like they would lose their heads.

Will Hughes – 5 – Failed to get into his usual rhythm and dictate the tempo of play. The Watford playmaker was neat in possession but not decisive or penetrative enough when surging forward.

Abdoulaye Doucoure – 6 – The defensive midfielder has forged a formidable reputation for his sensational partnership with Capoue this season. It took the anchorman time to well-and-truly get into his stride, but when he did, he began to look more dominant and authoritative as the match went on.

Roberto Pereyra – 6 – With Deulofeu on the bench, Pereyra was Watford’s only real creative spark, and the Argentine certainly stepped up to the plate for spells, showcasing glimmers of his excellence with the ball at his feet.

Troy Deeney – 8 – The robust forward was constantly trying to tee his strike partner up and found him on numerous occasions. The seasoned marksman also created a number of problems for the Wolves backline, notably his penalty win and conversion in the closing stages of the initial 90 minutes.

Andre Gray – 6 – Tried his best and was always willing to run for his teammates – in that sense Gray cannot be faulted for his workrate – but his threat in the final third was left much to be desired after squandering two golden opportunities.

Substitutes:

Gerard Deulofeu (for Hughes 65) – 9 – Transformed the game upon his introduction and made his manager, Javi Gracia, look somewhat ridiculous for not starting him. Took both his goals exceptionally well.

Adam Masina (for Holebas 98) – 5 – Came on for an injury-hit Holebas and slotted into his role seamlessly.

Daryl Janmaat (for Femenia 108) – 5 – Again, like Masina, came on to inject fresh impetus on the flank.

Wolves

John Ruddy – 5 – The England goalkeeper was a virtual spectator for large spells of the match but when Watford piled on the pressure towards the end of the second half and in extra-time, Ruddy failed to respond. Using his feet in an attempt to stop Deulofeu’s second goal was a questionable decision.

Matt Doherty – 7 – The Irishman has flourished in the FA Cup this season, and he continued that fine form after breaking the deadlock with a glancing header in the first half; but it wasn’t just his goalscoring exploits that caught the eye as he played with his usual attacking intensity.

Romain Saiss – 5 – Formed an industrious and effective centre-back trident alongside Coady and Boly, but when Watford began asking questions the backline faltered under the pressure.

Conor Coady – 7 – Coady was always willing to put his body on the line and fight for the cause, making a number of important tackles and blocks, notably his last-ditch lunge on Gray in the first half. It was a defensive masterclass until the closing stages; the libero was all at sea for Deulofeu’s second of the match, but that should not detract from his influence during normal time.

Willy Boly – 5 – Alongside his defensive teammates, Boly was impenetrable for the majority of the match, but when Watford threw ‘the kitchen sink’ at their opponents, Wolves struggled to restrain the onslaught.

Jonny Otto – 6 – An ever-present in the final third, the buccaneering full-back never shied away from bursting forward and helping his teammates, and was seldom caught out of position when Watford attacked.

Leander Dendoncker – 5 – The Belgian was having an encouraging match up until his late challenge, which cost his side dearly as he produced a clumsy tackle on Deeney and conceded the crucial penalty.

Ruben Neves – 7 – Neves was the central axis in the heart of midfield for Wolves. During his time on the pitch the Portuguese set the tempo for play, dictating proceedings with his acute passing range and intelligence.

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Joao Moutinho – 7 – Alongside Neves, the duo dominated the middle of the park for the majority of the game, playing with cohesion and an innate understanding of each other’s game. As the match went on the ageing legs of Moutinho began to show.

Raul Jimenez – 7 – The Mexican marksman was a physically imposing presence in the final third, causing a myriad of problems for Mariappa and Cathcart. He doubled his side’s advantage with an exceptional finish, but failed to follow up when Wolves went 3-2 down, though service was few and far between at that point.

Diogo Jota – 8 – Wolves’ star man on the day, the Portuguese forward was a constant thorn in the Watford defence, linking up with Jimenez with an almost telepathic understanding – a huge misfortune that he was substituted off before extra-time.

Substitutes:

Ryan Bennett (for Neves 86) – 5 – Came on to close the game out but conceded a goal – and then followed up in extra-time by conceding another.

Ivan Cavaleiro (for Jota 89) – 5 – Failed to produce the required impact needed after Jota went off – scuffed a glorious chance in extra-time to compound further misery on Wolves.

Adama Traore (for Moutinho 102) – 5 – Tried to influence proceedings but kept running down blind alleys.

Ruben Vinagre (for Otto 106) – 5 – Came on for the tiring legs of Otto and looked decent enough but nothing more.

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