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Almunia, Deeney and the 18 seconds that led to Watford ecstasy | Ben Fisher

When Leicester won a penalty deep into stoppage time it seemed the Hornets were departing the 2013 Championship play-offs in the semi-finals. Then came a freakish climax

Eighteen extraordinary seconds. That was all it took for the pendulum to swing from dejection to delirium for Watford almost seven minutes into stoppage time, with Manuel Almunia keeping out Anthony Knockaert’s penalty with his feet, then blocking the rebound with his chest before Troy Deeney rifled the ball home at the other end to send the club into the Championship play-off final at Leicester’s expense. That freakish finale is the maddest moment Vicarage Road has witnessed.

Tuesday marks seven years since Almunia’s saves allowed Marco Cassetti to hack clear and inadvertently set up a counterattack that had devastating consequences. “From that moment everything was just perfect,” recalls the former Watford defender Matthew Briggs. “Ikechi Anya’s first touch was unbelievable. He took it down the pitch and played it to [Fernando] Forestieri, who carried on to the byline and chipped a perfect cross for [Jonathan] Hogg. Any other player … anyone else, when the ball gets crossed to them at the back post in that situation, they are going for goal, but the awareness and composure Hogg showed was amazing, to see Deeney was in a better position and head it down for him.”

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