Gracia On Deulofeu: “He Was Angry & I Like To See That”
By Kevin Affleck
Watch Gracia's post-match interview above or read on below.
Javi Gracia said he unleashed a motivated Gerard Deulofeu on Wolverhampton Wanderers and added he knew the Spaniard had the ability to conjure up two moments of quality like that to win the semi-final of all semi-finals.
The Head Coach made the big call to start with Andre Gray ahead of Deulofeu, but sent for the summer signing from Barcelona with 24 minutes remaining and with his side in a deep hole. Deulofeu answered the call big time, chipping the first in in a goal that bore more than a resemblance to the one Ronaldinho got against Chelsea in 2005.
Then, after Deeney rammed in a penalty, Deulofeu scored the winner in extra-time by surging past Conor Coady and sliding the ball past John Ruddy before he had time to even set himself.
"We knew when we started with other players, that Gerard would be important during the game," said Gracia. "I knew it with more spaces. He was angry and I like to see my players with his attitude. When they feel angry in those moments they are able to show what they are able to do. He helped the steam to score two important goals of high quality. It is not a surprise for me because I see him in all the training sessions."
Gracia has shown he is not afraid of making the big calls. He left Deulofeu out against Manchester City, twice, and Everton away and also substituted him here against Tottenham.
"He always accepts the decision," said the Head Coach. "He knows we have other players in the same situation. I suppose he was angry in that moment. He wanted to play in the semi-final. He has played in almost all the games before. He wanted to help the team. All the players are showing they deserve to and it is not easy to choose the moments for all of them. I try to choose the best moment for all of them."
The tally took Deulofeu's haul to nine for the season and, crucially, two of them have now come in a big game.
"Gerard is capable of that," said Heurelho Gomes on BBC Radio 5 live. "He does it in training. It was difficult for him today but he showed we are working as a team and he changed the game."