Late goal sees Watford into playoff final

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Associated Press

Posted on May 13, 2013 at 7:02 AM

LONDON (AP) — Watford's way to Wembley could not have been any wilder.

The second-tier English team will play Brighton or Crystal Palace on May 27 for a spot in next season's Premier League after an improbable 30 seconds in the final moments of its League Championship semifinal playoff against Leicester on Sunday.

With Watford leading 2-1 in the second leg at Vicarage Road to leave the aggregate 2-2, the game was headed to overtime when Leicester was awarded a penalty kick in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Marco Cassetti nudged Anthony Knockaert in the area and the Leicester player went down theatrically despite replays showing only light contact.

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia saved Knockaert's spot kick and then reacted quickly to block the rebound as well. Watford cleared the ball, and Fernando Forestieri raced down the field and sent a cross into the area, which was eventually headed back toward Troy Deeney. The Watford player delivered a perfect volley into the net from 12 yards for a 3-1 win and 3-2 victory on aggregate.

Hundreds of fans ran onto the field, and Watford manager Gianfranco Zola slipped on the wet grass as he raced down the sideline to celebrate.

"I probably bruised something but I can't feel it now, probably in the morning," Zola said. "I just lost it, I didn't know where I was going or who I was chasing. I said to myself I had to keep my composure but when it happens you can't control it."

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