Watford 3 Wolves 2 – player ratings

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published:

Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers rates the players after Wolves suffer a heartbreaking FA Cup semi-final defeat to Watford.

A dejected Matt Doherty at full-time (© AMA / Molly Darlington)

John Ruddy

Wolves conceded three goals, but could Ruddy be blamed for any of them? The first one was a stunning finish by Deulofeu into the corner, the second was a powerfully-blasted penalty and the third was driven across him, he just couldn’t quite get a foot to it. Otherwise he commanded his penalty area well, coming off his line for a couple of confident claims and sending a couple of punches clear of danger. The chances are his season ends here. 6/10

Romain Saiss

Got the nod over Ryan Bennett, a reward for his impressive performances against Manchester United in the quarter-final and Chelsea in the league. He started off a bit ropey, earning a booking for sliding in on Pereyra (who looked to go to ground far too easily) but was an important part of the second-half defensive rearguard (while it lasted), winning an impressive 10 headers. Like the team, he gave the ball away too often. Moved into midfield after Neves’s withdrawal late on. 6/10

Conor Coady

The captain produced a Herculean block to deny Andre Gray’s goal-bound shot on the stroke of half-time, after a clever header by Troy Deeney. Coady threw himself at the ball to stop a certain goal. Only five of his 14 long balls found their target, with Wolves struggling to get upfield on too many occasions. Left isolated for the winning goal and he couldn’t stop Deulofeu racing past him to drive the ball past Ruddy. Crestfallen at full-time, as they all were. 6/10

Willy Boly

A man mountain for long periods of the second half. As well as the easy-on-the-eye stuff he produced plenty of defending of the muck and nettles variety too. Watford threw the ball into the box with increasing regularity in those frantic closing stages and Boly was often the man to repel them with a clearance, a block or via his usual sound positioning. The Frenchman has been very consistent of late. 7/10


Matt Doherty

He and Raul Jimenez have been the stars of Wolves’ FA Cup run. A remarkable four goals and three assists put Doherty at the top of the pile in the whole competition in terms of goal-based contributions. Timed his run perfectly to dart inside his man and get on the end of Diogo Jota’s beautifully-guided cross to give Wolves the lead. And then he sent a long ball on to the chest of Jimenez for Wolves’ second goal. 8/10

Joao Moutinho

The pick of the midfield three. Close to opening the scoring in just the fifth minute when he curled a lovely 20-yard free-kick on to the roof of Gomes’s net. Added bite into midfield and produced six tackles, the joint highest on the field along with Romain Saiss. However, his usual strong suit of key passes into the final third was lacking. Kept Wolves ticking along, but not at his inspirational best. Sacrificed in extra-time when Nuno sent on Adama Traore and changed formation. 7/10


Ruben Neves

Not the afternoon he’d have wanted. Booked early doors when he dragged back Pereyra – who played at the tip of a diamond and helped nullify Neves – on the byline. Thereafter he never really imposed himself on the game bar a couple of exquisite passes. An attempted through ball to Jota which was over-hit epitomised his day. His pass accuracy was way down at 69 per cent, far below his usual standard of nearer to 90. Shooting range wasn’t quite there either – he sent a couple of long-range efforts off target. Replaced by Bennett as the Watford onslaught ensued. 5/10

Leander Dendoncker

If he doesn’t dangle that leg out Wolves could be in the final. He just didn't see Deeney coming, it's one of those things and so cruel on the Belgian, who’s been one of Wolves’ stars performers since Christmas, adding a towering physical presence in midfield while helping those around him to flourish. But this wasn’t his day. Like almost all of them, he just kept giving the ball away. He normally plays it safe with simple passes, but here was often overcrowded. Almost netted a 30-yard screamer, which led to the corner for the opener. 5/10

Jonny Castro Otto

Wolves’ best performer in the opening stages of the game. Indeed, he almost scored inside just 20 seconds with a cute curler from outside the box which dropped only fractionally wide of the post. He was defensively sound as well. At the start of extra-time he tested Gomes with another decent effort and was a solid performer down the wing for the entire game. With tired legs, he couldn't Deulofeu go for the winner. Replaced by Ruben Vinagre soon after. 7/10

Raul Jimenez

In terms of technique, the best goal Wolves have ever scored at Wembley? It’s definitely right up there for skill, execution and ambition, leaping high to chest down Doherty’s floated long ball and then scything in an unstoppable volley. It was an absolutely tremendous strike. Jimenez helped get Wolves going on a number of occasions with powerful runs into the Watford third and came close with other decent attempts on goal. Didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. 8/10

Diogo Jota

At times he was awe-inspiring, taking the game to Watford on his own with a series of barnstorming runs deep into their half, holding off the challenges of defenders taller and supposedly stronger than him. Tenacious, courageous and skilful, like Jimenez it was so cruel that Jota was on the losing side. He and his strike partner were actually pretty quiet in the first 30 minutes, shackled by an organised Hornets defence. But he came to life thereafter, firstly with a delightful cross for Doherty's goal and then Jota almost scored a Wembley wondergoal, embarking on a mazy run from deep and curling just wide. He continued in this manner in the second half, frightening the life out the Watford backline and earning a number of free-kicks including for the second goal. Wolves were never the same after he departed. One of English football’s form players right now. 8/10


Ryan Bennett (for Neves, 86)

Sent on in place of Ruben Neves to help Wolves cope with Watford’s aerial bombardment in the closing stages. They were chucking the ball into the box and Bennett threw his body at the ball on a few occasions. 6/10

Ivan Cavaleiro (for Jota, 88)

Oh Ivan. Wolves’ fate was in his hands, a couple of minutes from the end of extra-time, when he found himself in a glorious position to take it to penalties via a lovely link-up with Jimenez. Instead he couldn’t get a shot away after some initial impressive skill. 5/10

Adama Traore (for Moutinho, 101)

Had the beating of his man time after time. Got to the byline time after time. But the delivery just wasn’t there. Had several team-mates to aim for, but his radar was off. 6/10

Ruben Vinagre (for Otto, 106)

Replaced Jonny Castro Otto shortly after Watford’s third goal to try and inject some pace and urgency down the left flank. He sent over a couple of decent crosses, aimed at Jimenez and Doherty. Certainly did his bit as Wolves frantically chased the game. 6/10

Subs not used: Norris, Gibbs-White, Costa.

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living


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