The FA Cup - Sixth Round
Watford2Crystal Palace1

FA Cup: Watford beat Crystal Palace to reach semi-finals with Andre Gray winner

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FA Cup: Watford 2-1 Crystal Palace highlights

Second-half substitute Andre Gray scored two minutes after coming on to send Watford into the FA Cup semi-finals with victory over Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets had earlier led through Etienne Capoue's instinctive finish before Michy Batshuayi levelled for the Eagles, finishing coolly after dispossessing Adrian Mariappa.

But soon after after replacing Will Hughes, Gray fired past Vincente Guaita to send his club into only their sixth FA Cup semi-final.

After retaking the lead the hosts looked the more likely side to score as Troy Deeney saw an effort well saved and Aaron Wan-Bissaka made a crucial intervention to keep out Gerard Deulofeu in the closing stages.

Javi Gracia's Watford have now beaten Palace three times this season, having done the double over them in the Premier League.

Deulofeu stars as Gracia's changes prove fruitful

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‘What an impact!’ - substitute Gray puts Watford ahead against Crystal Palace

Javi Gracia prepared for Saturday's quarter-final by resting seven players for their league game at Manchester City last weekend.

While it may have cost them their best chance of upsetting City at the Etihad, Gracia's decision proved fruitful with the Spaniard and his team now having an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley to prepare for.

Deulofeu, who netted against City, was their main threat throughout, his livewire running and trickery a constant thorn in the Eagles' side.

It was the Spanish forward who tested Vincente Guaita in the Palace goal first, wriggling his way into space before firing off a powerful shot as the hosts dominated the opening exchanges.

The Eagles keeper, making his FA Cup debut, was put under pressure throughout the first half and he had already flapped at several crosses before the Hornets took the lead through Capoue.

However, he soon made amends by tipping another vicious strike from Deulofeu over the bar, before denying the ex-Everton and Barcelona player again, saving his goal-bound free-kick.

Watford's intensity dropped in the second half and they were made to pay when Batshuayi levelled on the hour mark.

But after that they regained control and Gray netted their winner shortly after coming on - finishing with aplomb after Pereyra had found him in space in the middle of the box.

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'Emotional' Gomes in tears after FA Cup win

An emotional Heurelho Gomes led the full-time celebrations at Vicarage Road, with the 38-year-old goalkeeper, who is set to retire at the end of the season, perhaps eyeing one last hurrah.

"It's sensational. I couldn't ask for more," Gomes told BBC Match of the Day. "It was amazing today - it was emotional to be honest.

"It has been a great five years here. I am 99% sure I will retire at the end of the season but still 1% I haven't decided, but that is what I plan for from two or three years ago. I am 38 so I think it is the end of my career here."

Hodgson left disappointed again

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Batshuayi finishes well to draw Palace level

Saturday's game marked only Palace's second FA Cup quarter-final in the past 24 years.

And while they did have recent good form for beating Watford in the FA Cup - claiming victory in the 2016 semi-final between the sides - they did not do enough to progress at Vicarage Road.

After a lacklustre first 45 minutes, in which Watford keeper Gomes was rarely tested, the Eagles emerged in the second half with a new verve and vigour to their play.

Gomes was forced into a good diving save by Max Meyer early in the second half, before the Brazilian easily dealt with Andros Townsend's swerving free-kick.

But the former Tottenham keeper was unable to prevent Palace's leveller, as Batshuayi finished coolly after catching Mariappa in possession.

However, Palace were unable to build on their equaliser to recreate their heroics of 2016, or avenge their two defeats by Watford this season, as Gray's 79th-minute winner sent them home with nothing.

Manager Roy Hodgson will be particularly disappointed - he has now lost three FA Cup quarter-finals - and at 71 years of age this may have been his last chance of success in this competition.

The Eagles were weakened by losing Wilfried Zaha to an hamstring injury he picked up in last weekend's defeat by Brighton, but Hodgson is optimistic the forward will return to full fitness in time for their Premier League match against Huddersfield after the international break.

"We were unlucky to lose a player of Zaha's quality before the game," Hodgson said.

"We don't really want to go into an important quarter-final without players of his ability and his importance. So that was a bit unfortunate as, of course, has been the Mamadou Sakho injury.

"It would have been an enormous risk to play him - a risk of much more serious injury. With the two weeks now coming up, we can only hope he will recover in time when we play our next game."

Man of the match - Gerard Deulofeu (Watford)

Gerard Deulofeu
Gerard Deulofeu was Watford's star man and a menace throughout. He took a game-high four shots on target and completed 88.9% of his passes

'Amazing day for us' - what they said

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Reaching Wembley amazing - Gracia

Watford manager Javi Gracia, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: "It is amazing for all of us, for the players, staff and supporters.

"It is an important day to have the chance to enjoy a semi-final, we are keeping the same level, competing well and that it is our target in this moment.

"We put Andre Gray on the pitch, he always has a good chance to score and scores important goals for the team, he deserves it and I am happy for him."

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Either team could have won - Hodgson

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson on BBC Match of the Day: "It was a close game, once again a game at this stage of the season affected by conditions - the wind was difficult, and you can't get the ball down on the ground as much. At half-time there wasn't much to say - they had a lot of corners and used the wind to their advantage.

"In the second half we played a lot better, got a deserved equaliser and we were looking like it could be us to get the second goal. But, it was the opposite, a good goal from Gray wins it for Watford."

Hornets progress from the quarter-finals again - the stats

  • Watford have progressed from their last four FA Cup quarter-final ties, also winning in 2002-03, 2006-07 and 2015-16.
  • Watford have reached the FA Cup semi-finals for the seventh time, although they have eventually progressed to the final just once (1984 under Graham Taylor).
  • Watford have won three games against Crystal Palace in single season for the first time.
  • Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has lost all three of his FA Cup quarter-finals as a manager, also losing with Fulham in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
  • Three of Etienne Capoue's four goals for Watford this season have been in cup competitions, including two in the FA Cup.
  • Crystal Palace striker Michy Batshuayi has scored in all four of his appearances against Watford in all competitions, scoring five goals in the process.

What's next?

The Eagles are back in Premier League action on Saturday, 30 March, when they host bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield (15:00 GMT). Watford return at the same time when they face Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Line-ups

Watford

  • 1Gomes
  • 21Femenía
  • 6Mariappa
  • 15Cathcart
  • 25HolebasSubstituted forMasinaat 45'minutesBooked at 57mins
  • 16Doucouré
  • 29Capoue
  • 19HughesSubstituted forGrayat 77'minutes
  • 37Pereyra
  • 9Deeney
  • 7DeulofeuSubstituted forCleverleyat 89'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Janmaat
  • 8Cleverley
  • 10Success
  • 11Masina
  • 18Gray
  • 27Kabasele
  • 30Dahlberg

Crystal Palace

  • 31Guaita
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 5Tomkins
  • 34Kelly
  • 15Schlupp
  • 8Kouyaté
  • 4MilivojevicBooked at 36mins
  • 18McArthurSubstituted forBentekeat 84'minutes
  • 7Meyer
  • 10Townsend
  • 23Batshuayi

Substitutes

  • 2Ward
  • 13Hennessey
  • 14J Ayew
  • 17Benteke
  • 21Wickham
  • 35Woods
  • 44Riedewald
Referee:
Kevin Friend
Attendance:
18,104

Match Stats

Home TeamWatfordAway TeamCrystal Palace
Possession
Home43%
Away57%
Shots
Home11
Away13
Shots on Target
Home8
Away5
Corners
Home8
Away4
Fouls
Home11
Away9

Live Text

Match ends, Watford 2, Crystal Palace 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Watford 2, Crystal Palace 1.

Attempt missed. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.

Offside, Watford. Etienne Capoue tries a through ball, but Andre Gray is caught offside.

Attempt missed. James Tomkins (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the left following a corner.

Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Adam Masina.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Tom Cleverley replaces Gerard Deulofeu.

Attempt blocked. Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Andros Townsend.

James Tomkins (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Andre Gray (Watford).

Attempt blocked. Craig Cathcart (Watford) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Gerard Deulofeu with a cross.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Christian Benteke.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Christian Benteke.

Corner, Watford. Conceded by Vicente Guaita.

Attempt saved. Troy Deeney (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Roberto Pereyra.

Substitution

Substitution, Crystal Palace. Christian Benteke replaces James McArthur.

Foul by Jeffrey Schlupp (Crystal Palace).

Troy Deeney (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford).

Goal!

Goal! Watford 2, Crystal Palace 1. Andre Gray (Watford) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Roberto Pereyra with a through ball.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Andre Gray replaces Will Hughes.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) because of an injury.

Attempt missed. Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Roberto Pereyra.

Attempt saved. Roberto Pereyra (Watford) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top right corner.

Attempt missed. Max Meyer (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Michy Batshuayi.

Foul by Cheikhou Kouyaté (Crystal Palace).

Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Troy Deeney.

James McArthur (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Roberto Pereyra (Watford).

Goal!

Goal! Watford 1, Crystal Palace 1. Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner.

Attempt missed. Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Jeffrey Schlupp.

Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Heurelho Gomes.

Attempt saved. Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from long range on the right is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Booking

Adam Masina (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Max Meyer (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.

goal

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