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Mighty Manchester City takes on upstarts West Ham United at venerable Wembley Stadium in Saturday’s Women’s FA Cup Final at 12:30 Eastern. While no TV network here in America will air the marquee matchup, it will thankfully be streamed on the FA Super Women’s League Facebook page.
Next month, the Women’s World Cup in France will bring the international women’s game to a growing global audience. But it’s a different story domestically. The National Women’s Soccer League has no TV broadcast home, instead their matches are available to stream via Yahoo Sports. And there’s no TV broadcast home here for the UEFA Women’s Champions League final coming up on May 18th between Lyon and Barcelona.
The Watford forward says his team felt victory over Wolves was ‘a matter of time’ after Troy Deeney’s stoppage-time penaltyAfter Michael Oliver blew his whistle to mark the end of normal time at Wembley on Sunday, less than 90 seconds after Troy Deeney had blasted in the penalty that levelled the scores between Watford and Wolves at 2-2, the teams gathered on either side of the halfway line to compose themselves before half an hour that would test the limits of their physical endurance and decide the game. For the Watford players, who had dragged themselves back from a two‑goal deficit with 11 minutes to play, all uncertainty had gone.
• Watford manager admits he thought ‘all is lost’ at 2-0 down • ‘It’s a moment of real pain,’ says Wolves’ Nuno Espirito Santo
Gerard Deulofeu took out his anger on Wolves after being dropped from the starting Watford line-up, according to his manager, Javi Gracia, to inspire one of the great FA Cup comebacks.
Watford were 2-0 down with 11 minutes of the semi-final to go and even Gracia suggested “everything was lost”. Matt Doherty had put Wolves in front and, when Raúl Jiménez scored the second on 62 minutes and celebrated by pulling on a wrestler’s mask, it looked as though it would be his team that advanced to face Manchester City on 18 May.
Demoted to the bench, the Spaniard came on to provide a thing of beauty for his first goal and the winner in extra time to beat Wolves 3-2 in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley
As a manager you know it is definitely and incontrovertibly your day when you are faced with one major selection decision, get it demonstrably wrong and then win the game because of it.
Troy Deeney, Watford’s captain and frequently their inspiration, is known for giving occasional sermons about “cojones” and once again proved his qualification for delivering them by rocketing home the penalty in the fourth minute of added time that completed his team’s comeback from two goals down. Gerard Deulofeu, the slight, wispy Spaniard who scored their other two goals, is not so much the chest-thumping, fist-pumping type, but this was the story of the mouse that roared.
For Watford, all had seemed lost. Two-nil down and seemingly out of ideas, the dream of only a second FA Cup final appearance in their 121-year history was not so much as on the rocks as being dashed against them. Their fans cherish the memory of when Graham Taylor took them to the Wembley showpiece in 1984, even if they lost to Everton. It looked as though there would be no repeat.
Yet Javi Gracia and his players simply refused to lose, to buy into the script that had Wolves continuing their fairytale season with a march into the final against Manchester City. It took a moment of magic to revive them and one of the highest drama to force extra-time. And, with the tide of a tumultuous semi-final turned, there was a degree of inevitability about the winning goal, which was scored by Gerard Deulofeu.
• Manager says season ‘already a miracle’ after FA Cup win • Brighton’s Chris Hughton: Kyle Walker should have got red cardPep Guardiola once again sought to play down Manchester City’s chance of winning the quadruple after their narrow FA Cup semi-final victory over Brighton, describing it as “almost impossible” for his team to claim all four honours they are competing for this season.
Gabriel Jesus’s fourth-minute goal was enough for City to set up a return visit to Wembley for the final on 18 May, when they will take on either Watford or Wolves. City will be firm favourites to triumph and claim a second piece of silverware having won the Carabao Cup in February. They also remain in contention to retain the Premier League title and win the Champions League for the first time – with a quarter-final first leg tie against Tottenham to come on Tuesday Continue reading “Pep Guardiola says quadruple ‘almost impossible’ for Manchester City”
No one really knows whether the Manchester City right-back should have been sent off – all we have are opinionsIt seemed fitting that this FA Cup semi-final should end with Manchester City’s players keeping the ball in a kind of ad hoc rondo deep in the Brighton half, 1-0 up and just doing enough, their opponents held at arm’s length like an outmatched little brother, fists windmilling uselessly.
It seemed fitting the victory tune on the Wembley PA should be Wonderwall, with its downbeat, ruminative opening chords. It seemed fitting also that it should be Brighton’s fans who cheered loudest in those moments, the entire end on its feet applauding the players for reaching this far, for an energetic performance, and for the gift of one of those fun, frisky Saturdays where football becomes a carefree thing once again, even in defeat.
Barcelona head to Manchester with the La Liga title almost secured. There were five minutes left when they finally found a way past Jan Oblak and four minutes left when they found their past him again, late goals from Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi taking Barcelona 11 points clear with seven games to go. The chance of a treble remains, Old Trafford permitting. Into the final of the Copa del Rey, an eighth league title in 11 years beckons and so they move on to the title that obsesses them most – that “lovely trophy”, in Messi’s words.
By the standards they set themselves these days, this was a slightly strange way for Manchester City to tick off the latest assignment in a season that has all sorts of possibilities open for Pep Guardiola’s team.
The quadruple? Guardiola will always play down that kind of talk. Yet City already have one trophy in the bag, their latest victory puts them in the final of the FA Cup and they are two points off the top of the Premier League table with a game in hand – even before we get to the fact they play the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday against a Spurs team that is 16 points below them in England’s top division.
Club’s sporting director, Kevin Thelwell, recalls when perennial struggle gave way to unbridled ambition with new owners and a mercurial manager taking the club to dizzy heightsIt was the summer of 2016, Wolverhampton had just been taken over by the Chinese conglomerate Fosun and Kevin Thelwell was left in no uncertain terms that life at Molineux was about to change beyond all recognition. “Fosun had a very clear plan right from the very start,” he says. “’What does ‘great’ look like? That’s where we’re going, you’d better get your mind around that pretty quickly. We’re getting out of this league, into the Premier League and then we’re heading in that direction.’”
• Forward cautions against rush to move into giant stadiums • Phil Neville’s side out to atone for Canada loss against Spain
Nikita Parris tempered Phil Neville’s midweek cry for clubs to open their main stadiums to their women’s teams by calling for women’s football to “build from the bottom”.
Speaking after England’s 1-0 loss to Canada at the ground where she players for Manchester City Women, Parris said: “You want to build towards that, but let’s first off get the Academy Stadium full before we try and go to the Etihad.
Watford against Wolves, a fitting semi-final between two of this season’s standout sides. Nuno Espírito Santo and Javi Gracia have worked wonders but neither manager will be content with their brilliant FA Cup runs ending here. Wolves may have the edge after beating Manchester United for the second time in as many weeks and the boost brought by confirming that Raúl Jiménez will be staying in the Black Country. Gracia will be unconcerned Wolves are one point and one goal better off in the league. He has never been to a final in his career as a coach. Maybe Sunday will take him there. Graham Searles
Wolves’ manager spent a lot of time on the fringes as a goalkeeper but making his mind work harder than his hands has paid off with an FA Cup semi-final against Watford
The most influential voices usually come from the dugout – and in more ways than one with Nuno Espírito Santo. A second-choice goalkeeper for a large chunk of his playing career, Nuno’s sage observations from the substitutes’ bench, or in a corner of the dressing room that José Mourinho entrusted him to police at Porto, made him a manager in waiting.
• Manager recently rewarded with contract extension • ‘I’m happy because the club trusts me,’ says Gracia
Javi Gracia has admitted that becoming Watford’s manager was a risk that carried the potential to derail his career. The Spaniard was aware of the owners’ reputation for unceremonious sackings and he took over a struggling team in January 2018 after Marco Silva’s spell unravelled.