This match has gone down in footballing folklore, thanks to the most dramatic ending which saw the Hornets go from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in 19 turbulent seconds.
After a rollercoaster season in which Watford, led by Gianfranco Zola, played some of their best football in years, the club’s Premier League hopes rested on the lottery of the Championship play-offs as the team failed to finish in an automatic promotion place.
Watford lost the first leg of the semi-final against Leicester City 1-0 at the King Power Stadium thanks to a David Nugent header.
Back at Vicarage Road three days later, buoyed on by their home support the hosts quickly took the lead after just 15 minutes through Matej Vydra, who ended a 12-game goalless streak in spectacular fashion, volleying a left-footed over-the-shoulder strike into the far corner. Nugent soon equalised with another header, but on 65 minutes Watford edged ahead on the day again through Vydra’s 22nd strike of the season, after a smart link-up with captain Troy Deeney.
With no advantage given to away goals in the play-offs, the game looked to be heading into extra-time until deep into injury time, when Anthony Knockaert fell to the ground in the penalty area under minimal pressure and referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty.
Knockaert insisted upon taking the spot kick himself, but goalkeeper Manuel Almunia stood strong to save both the initial strike and the rebound, before Cassetti cleared up field.
The Hornets had a lifeline but were not content to wait for extra-time, spotting a chance for a counter-attack against the wounded Foxes. Anya brilliantly controlled Cassetti’s clearance before feeding Fernando Forestieri, who crossed to Jonathan Hogg at the back post. The midfielder cushioned a header back to Deeney, who took no chances and rattled his strike past the goalkeeper, sparking extraordinary celebrations.
Although the final at Wembley did not go to plan for Zola’s side, this semi-final will live long in the memories of all Watford supporters and the wider footballing community.