Watford 3 - 1 Leicester (3-2 AGG) Match Report.
Watford scored a last gasp goal to secure a trip to Wembley on Sunday after beating Leicester City 3-1 (3-2 Agg) in front of the Sky Sports Cameras. The last two minutes of the match saw unbelievable scenes at Vicarage Road. Manuel Almunia made a fantastic double save from Anthony Knochaerts penalty and rebound before Watford broke down the other end with pace and scored after Jonathan Hogg cushioned a header down to Troy Deeney who smashed the ball into the net to send the whole Vicarage Road crowd into fanatics (Including myself). It was an unbelievable finish to a fantastic match and is the best end to a football match that I have ever witnessed. Gianfrnaco Zola made three changes to the side that lost 1-0 in the first leg. Alex Geijo, Daniel Pudil and Jonathan Hogg all dropped to the bench with Troy Deeney, Matthew Briggs and Cristian Battochio taking their places. Nigel Pearson put out the same team. Also referee Phil Dowd pulled out from being the referee for the match a couple of days before hand meaning that Young Premier League referee Michael Oliver assumed the duty. The Hornets started the match brightly and should have been ahead in teh 6th minute. Chalobah found Deeney who then playedin Vydra whose first time side footed effort went inches wide of Kasper Schmeichals goal when through one on one. The Hornets had another opportunity in the 9th minute as well. Lloyd Doyley played a long ball up to Troy Deeney who controlled it before wriggling past two Leicester Defenders before taking a shot which Kasper Schmeichal saved. Then in the 15th minute, the hornets took the lead. Marco Cassetti spotted Matej Vydra and the Italian Defener played a delightful ball into Vydra who watched the ball the home time and volleyed it in from a difficult angle giving Kasper Schmeichal no chance. It was a fantastic goal and was a brilliant way to end his 13 game run without a goal. This was the Czech strikers 21st goal of the season. But the lead lasted just 5 minutes and put Leicester back in front on aggregate. From a corner, David Nugent got away from Lloyd Doyley and easily placed the ball into the net via a header. Nugent just loves scoring against Watford and was the Leicester strikers 16th goal of the season. The Hornets didnt let that deter them and had some half chances soon after. Ikechi Anya's cross was colleyed wide from Deeney. Then later on, Anya played a delightful one two with Chalobah before playing the ball into Deeney who headered wide.
Half Time - 1-1
Leicester had the first opportunity during the second half. Ekstrand was deemed to have fouled Chris Wood but Knockheart's free kick went wide. Then the Hornets nearly went ahead soon after. Battochio picked up the ball and showed some lovely skill to get away from three Leicester defenders before unleashing a low shot which went inches wide of Schmeichals goal. Then the Hornets had another chance 5 minutes later. Briggs cut inside after beating De Laet and rolled the ball to Vydra who tapped it to Abdi whose shot was deflected wide. Gianfranco Zola then made his first substitution on the hour brining on Fernando Forestieri for Lloyd Doyley. In the 65th minute, the Hornets took the lead brining it back to 2-2 on aggregate. Vydra picked up the ball before passing it to Deeney who played the ball back into Vydra who was now one on one with Schmeichal and the Czech striker clinically rolled his first time side footed effort into the net. This was the Czech strikers 22nd goal of the season and the Vicarage Road faithul knew that Watford only needed one more goal if they wanted to go to Wembley. Soon after their second, the Hornets nearly took the lead. Fernando Forestieri hit the ball on the half volley and his shot went inches over. The ball was in the back of the net in the 75th minute from the Hornets but Troy Deeneys effort was ruled out for off side. Jonathan Hogg then came on for Cristian Battochio in the 79th minute. Leicester had a series of 2 dubious free kicks which went harmlessly over. Going into the 90th minute, 4 minutes were indicated but this was extended due to Ekstrand recieving treatment. Vicarage Road was braced for Extra time but they thought it was all going to be over when Referee Michael Oliver awarded a very dubious penalty. Anthony Knockheart got away from Matthew Briggs to easy and burst into the area. Marco Cassetti but his arm on Knockhaert's shoulder and the Frenchman went down very easily with replays showing that their was minimal if not any contact. I didnt think it was a penalty at the time and i certainly do not think it was after seeing the replays. It was a poor decision by Premier Leagure referee Michael Oliver. Knockhaert stepped up to take the penalty to chants of cheat. The Vicarage Road were praying that Almunia could save it. Save it he did TWICE. Knockhaerts original penalty was saved with the Hornets Captains feet and he then got up to save Knockaert's rebound. Vicarage Road erupted and Marco Cassetti cleared the ball away. The ball fell to Anya who bought it down with some super control before spriting forward with it and then playing it into Forestieri. Forestieri then crossed the ball into Jonathan Hogg who expertly cushioned it down to Deeney who hammered it into the net giving Schmeichal no chance. This sent Vicarage Road into pandomonium with Fans running on to the pitch to celerbrate. This was Deeney's 20th goal of the season and one of his most important goals. What a way it was to win a match. To be so close to being knocked out of the Play Offs and to score 20 seconds after a magnificent penalty save was unbelievable. This is the best ending to a match that i have ever witnessed and was even better then the ending to the Brentford V Doncaster match which coincidently was refereed by Michael Oliver who awarded a dbuious penalty in that match too. After the fans vacated the pitch, the match restarted but after a few minutes, Michael Oliver blew his whistlen to send Vicarage Road into wild celerbrations. They will now meet Crystal Palace in the play off final on Bank Holiday Monday.
Full Time - 3-1 (3-2 Agg)
Team Lineups and ratings for Watford
Watford - Almunia (GK)(C) 7, Doyley 6 (Forestieri 60 7), Ekstrand 9, Cassetti 7, Anya 7, Battochio 7, (Hogg 79 6), Abdi 7, Chalobah 7 Briggs 6, Vydra 9, Deeney 9.
Subs Not Used - Bond (GK), Eustace, Hall, Pudil, Geijo
Goals - Vydra (X2) (15,65) Deeney (90 +7)
Bookings - Cassetti, Deeney.
My Watford Man Of The Match - Joel Ekstrand - Hard to choose as nearly everyone was brilliant. But it has to be Ekstrand. Deeney and Vydra may have grabbed the headlines but Ekstrand was superb in defence and coped with everything Leicester threw at him.
Leicester - Schmeichal (GK), De Laet, Morgan (C), Keane, Schlupp, Knockhaert, James, King, Dyer (Drinkwater 66), Nugent, Wood (Kane 60).
Subs Not Used - Logan (GK), Konchesky, Marshall, Vardy, Moore.
Goals - Nugent (19)
Bookings - Wood
Possesion - Watford 50%, Leicester 50%
Attendance - 16,142
Referee - Michael Oliver.