Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Andre Gray's winner sends Watford into FA Cup semi-finals on emotional day for Heurelho Gomes

Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes applauds the fans at the end of the match. Reuters
Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes applauds the fans at the end of the match. Reuters

Watford reached their second FA Cup semi-final in four seasons with substitute Andre Gray scoring three minutes after coming on to seal a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Etienne Capoue side-footed Watford ahead in the 27th minute at a blustery Vicarage Road as the hosts had the better of the first half but Palace responded after the break.

Michy Batshuayi punished a defensive lapse to equalise for Roy Hodgson's side just past the hour mark and it was Palace who looked to have the upper hand moving into the closing stages.

But it was Watford who secured a last-four date at Wembley when Gray, who had just replaced Will Hughes, volleyed a 79th-minute winner to send their fans home dreaming of a second FA Cup final appearance after they lost the 1984 showpiece.

They had to survive a late scare though when Palace's Aaron Wan-Bissaka drilled a low shot wide after a defensive blunder.

Gray's winner secured a hat-trick of 2-1 wins for Watford over Palace this season after Javi Gracia's team won both Premier League matches by the same margin.

It was an emotional day for Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who received a standing ovation from the home fans in what could well be his final match at Vicarage Road.

The Brazilian, who joined the club from Tottenham Hotspur in 2014, has seen his first-team opportunities restricted since the arrival of Ben Foster as first choice last summer, says he is "99 per cent certain" to retire at the end of the season. With Gomes restricted to cup matches under Gracia this season, and with the FA Cup semi-final to be played at Wembley, unless the Spaniard grants the long-serving custodian a farewell appearance in one of Watford's five remaining home Premier League games this season, the former PSV Eindhoven keeper was keen to go out on a winning note.

“It was emotional to be honest, it has been a great five years here," Gomes said when asked about the warm applause he received from the Watford fans at the final whistle. "I am 99 per cent sure I will retire at the end of the season but still 1 per cent I haven’t decided, but that is what I planned for from two or three years ago. I am 38, so I think it is the end of my career here.

“This club has been amazing, they gave me the opportunity to dream again when I planned to go back to Brazil in 2014. It has been an amazing five years but we have to think about this after the season.

“It's been an amazing season, to go to Wembley, and the club and team is growing. Everyone is happy so it is a bit of an opportunity to go there. It is always special to play at Wembley.”

Updated: March 16, 2019 06:58 PM

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