Football

Gianfranco Zola 'just lost it' in play-off celebrations

Zola celebrates at the final whistle (©GettyImages)
Zola celebrates at the final whistle (©GettyImages).

Troy Deeney scored a dramatic 97th minute winner to propel Watford into the Championship play-off final with a 3-2 aggregate win against Leicester at Vicarage Road.

Sixty seconds prior to Deeney’s strike, the Hornets’ promotion hopes looked as good as over when referee Michael Oliver awarded the Foxes a controversial penalty.

However, Manuel Almunia saved Anthony Knockaert’s spot-kick and the resulting rebound, which allowed Watford to break up the other end. After an incisive counter-attack, the ball fell to Deeney in the penalty area and the striker rifled home, sparking mass celebrations between players and fans.

Watford boss Gianfranco Zola surged up the touchline, slipping on his back-side in the process, and the Italian admits he got lost in the moment.

Talking to the Watford Post, Zola said: “I don’t feel anything right now but I have probably pulled something and it will no doubt come tomorrow morning.

“I just lost it. I don’t even know where I was going. I don’t know whether I was chasing Troy or someone else.

“That is the passion. I said to myself that I have to be composed and respectful but when it happens, you can’t control it. That is why we love this game.”

Yesterday’s hysterics follow a near identical set of circumstances in the League One promotion decider a fortnight ago, and Zola believed his side was on to something as Leicester’s penalty was denied.

“As we cleared the box, I saw the ball travelling towards our strikers and the film of Brentford’s game came to me; when they conceded against Doncaster. I had that movie in my mind and I was spot on,” added Zola.

Zola’s side will meet either Brighton or Crystal Palace at Wembley, with the two sides meeting in their second leg at the Amex Stadium tonight. The first meeting was a tight affair, with a Selhurst Park stalemate leaving the match in the balance.

Topics:
Leicester City
Football
Troy Deeney
Crystal Palace
Brighton & Hove Albion
Watford
Manuel Almunia

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