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Almunia expected Watford exit

Watford goalkeeper Manuel Almunia was ready to book his summer holidays when Leicester were awarded their stoppage-time penalty in Sunday's extraordinary play-off semi-final.

Last Updated: 13/05/13 at 14:19 Post Comment

Manuel Almunia: Thought Watford's season was over

Manuel Almunia: Thought Watford's season was over

With the tie level at 2-2 and extra-time looming, referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot after Marco Cassetti nudged Anthony Knockaert to the ground.

Knockaert stepped up to take the penalty which would have sent Leicester to Wembley but Almunia saved it, and the rebound, before Watford broke away and Troy Deeney netted the winner in the 97th minute.

"It was a dramatic one, the kind of game you dream about and sometimes it happens," said Almunia.

"It's the good side of football but the bad side is for Leicester, I feel sorry for them. When the ref gave the penalty I was nearly thinking of my holidays, there were only a couple of minutes left. But I was very relaxed.

"We watched the penalty takers on a DVD but this guy wasn't on it. So I did nothing special, I just guessed the right side and it hit my legs.

"The ball dropped in front of me, I saw the guy come in and the ball hit me again. Then I thought football might give us something good in the last minute and Troy finished the job.

"It was great in the dressing room afterwards; singing, jumping around to music and some beers - just to rehydrate the body."

Former Arsenal keeper Almunia will captain the Hornets at Wembley in a fortnight in what will be the 35-year-old's first appearance at the national stadium.

"I haven't played there but I was on the bench in the Carling Cup final against Birmingham," he added.

"You have to take it like just another game - it will be a very special one but once we are on the pitch it will just be another game.

"The job's not done yet. We will rest at home, have a few days off, then come back a week before Wembley and we have a big job to do.

"In football it doesn't matter where you are; Arsenal, Watford or in League Two, moments like this are great. With football in this country something always happens. That's why people admire English football, it's so unpredictable."

Midfielder Almen Abdi is confident the Hornets can finish the job and secure promotion back to the Barclays Premier League.

The 26-year-old Switzerland international said: "We have played great football this season but yesterday we showed outstanding character as well. It was an amazing feeling.

"Our confidence is very high now after winning a game like that. If we play our football, I think we are going to win this final."

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Readers' Comments

C

lassic management. Build them up and then knock them back. Raise expectations and then dampen them. Create a dynamic where by you demand the most from your team, but where the team are given room to manoeuvre unexpected or unwanted results. Classy work by Van Gaal, he really reminds me a lot of me. A smart cookie, make no doubt.

hump3.
Van Gaal: 'I struggle for first three months'

H

e will be the England left back for ten years or more, and then you will have to thank MUFC for that. *smiles*

london saint
Shaw: Criticism spot on

P

urely because of that little diva moment he had last night, I don't want him coming to my club. DESTROYED ? Grow up and give something back to the club that helped put you up there on the world stage.

bale doubt
Saints' Schneiderlin stalemate

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