Wolves 2 Watford 3
Wolves broke the hearts of their supporters as they threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 after extra-time to Watford with substitute Gerard Deulofeu’s brace sending the Hornets into the FA Cup final.
Matt Doherty’s 37th-minute header gave Nuno Espirito Santo’s side the lead before Raul Jimenez made it 2-0 with a smart volley on 63.
But Deulofeu, who replaced Will Hughes three minutes later, put Watford back into the game with an outrageous flicked chip before captain Troy Deeney sent the tie into extra-time with a penalty with virtually the last kick.
Deulofeu calmly grabbed the winner in the 104th minute and there was no way back for Wolves. Watford will now play Manchester City in the final next month.
Defeat was hard on Wolves after leading, and creating the first two chances of the first half. But ultimately, Watford looked the more likely winners as soon as they got themselves back into the game.
Wolves have now lost their last five FA Cup semi-finals going back to when they last won it in 1960, but were denied a record seventh straight win at Wembley in a run that stretches back to 1939.
Nuno sprung one surprise with his Wolves line-up, including Romain Saiss at right-sided centre back instead of Ryan Bennett, who was on the bench.
As expected, John Ruddy was in goal, just as he has been in all of the other five FA Cup ties this season. Will Norris was the replacement goalkeeper.
Left winger Roberto Pereyra was passed fit for Watford after emerging as an injury doubt earlier in the week.
Wolves had two chances to take the lead in the opening minutes. Straight from the kick-off, Jonny broke, cutting in from the left before floating a curling effort narrowly wide of the far post.
Then Joao Moutinho’s curling free kick went the same way, just failing to come down enough and grazing the top of the net from 20 yards out.
Watford had more possession than Wolves but failed to do anything meaningful with it until the 31st minute with a move fashioned entirely in the West Midlands. Brummie Troy Deeney cut in from the left and swung in a cross that Wolverhampton-born striker Andre Gray – who was on Wolves books as a 13-year-old – could only divert well wide when unmarked.
Wolves were able to punish them in ruthless fashion by taking the lead. Joao Moutinho found Diogo Jota from a short corner and the Portuguese’s inviting cross was headed in by Doherty at the far post.
It was the wing back’s eighth goal of the season and his fifth in the FA Cup.
Suddenly, Wolves’ tails were up and Diogo Jota ran at the Watford defence, cutting inside before screwing a curling shot narrowly wide after running from deep.
But Wolves were indebted to Conor Coady in first-half time added on after the captain threw himself in front of the unmarked Gray’s shot after Deeney headed down Will Hughes’s chip.
Wolves started the second half in menacing mood and Jimenez looked to double their lead with a low, angled drive which was beaten away by Heurelho Gomes.
Craig Cathcart was then booked for bringing down Jota on the Wolves left as they looked to catch the Hornets on the break.
From the free kick, Ruben Neves went desperately close as his set-piece swung just wide of the far post with Saiss steaming in.
Wolves doubled their lead with the next attack. Doherty pumped in a deep cross, and Jimenez just stayed onside as he chested the ball down, swivelled and volleyed low into the net, giving Gomes no chance.
Nuno’s side looked the only winners from there but Watford had other ideas.
Deulofeu, on the left of the box, produced an outrageous chip to halve the deficit on 79 after a throw-in had been headed away.
Then in truly dramatic fashion, Deeney smashed home a penalty to equalise in the fourth minute of time added on after he was caught by Dendoncker and the incident went to VAR.
Deulofeu won it for Watford when he calmly stroked the ball past Ruddy after taking a touch past Coady.
Wolves huffed and puffed in the rest of extra-time but only looked like scoring when substitute Ivan Cavaleiro rounded Gomes, but with the goal gaping, the ball hit his back foot and was hacked away.
Wolves (3-5-2): Ruddy; Saiss, Coady (c), Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves (Bennett 86), Moutinho (Traore 102), Jonny (Vinagre 105); Jimenez, Jota (Cavaleiro 88)
Subs: Norris (gk), Costa, Gibbs-White.
Watford (4-4-2): Gomes; Femenia (Janmaat 108), Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas (Masina 98); Capoue, Hughes (Deulofeu 66, Sema 112)), Doucoure, Pereyra; Deeney (c), Gray.
Subs: Foster (gk), Quina, Kabasele.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).