Watford will play Manchester City in the 2019 FA Cup Final after a dramatic and remarkable 3-2 extra-time victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Wembley Stadium.

Trailing 2-0 with just over an hour gone, the Hornets’ hopes of reaching the second final in their history were fading fast. Step forward Gerard Deulofeu and nerves of steel from captain fantastic Troy Deeney.

The Hornets had shaded a predictably tight first half – and should have been in front through Andre Gray – but paid the price for poor defending from a short corner when Matt Doherty headed Wolves in front.

That setback rocked Watford for a spell, but it took a superb block from Conor Coady in first-half injury-time to repel another Gray effort.

Watford struggled to replicate their first-half performance after the break and when Doherty turned supplier for Raul Jimenez to double Wolves’ advantage after 62 minutes they were facing a big uphill struggle.

Javi Gracia almost immediately brought on Deulofeu but the Hornets’ prospects were beginning to look increasingly bleak until the Spaniard conjured a quite brilliant goal out of very little to give his side hope.

As is often the case in these scenarios, the possibility of a dramatic twist was always on the cards. It increasingly looked like it wouldn’t happen, but two minutes into injury time Deeney received a pass inside from Abdoulaye Doucoure, only to be sent tumbling by Leander Dendoncker.

Michael Oliver has awarded memorably dramatic late penalties in big Watford games before – a certain play-off semi-final springs readily to mind – but this time it was in the Hornets’ favour and after a lengthy delay for a VAR check Deeney was in no mood to spurn the golden opportunity and slammed his spot-kick past John Ruddy to extraordinarily take the game to extra-time.

Shell-shocked as Wolves were, they started the additional half-an-hour the better, but just before the interval came the moment the turnaround was completed when Gray set up Deulofeu to score his match-winning second.

Gracia made two changes to the side that beat Fulham 4-1 on Tuesday night. Heurelho Gomes starting in place of Ben Foster was not a particular surprise, but the head coach opted to reward Gray’s impressive performances off the bench by starting him in place of Deulofeu.

Nuno Espirito Santo had already confirmed Ruddy would start in goal, with Rui Patricio left out of the match-day 18 altogether, but the Wolves boss also made two other changes form the team which defeated Manchester United 2-1 in midweek. Romain Saiss came into the back three in place of Ryan Bennett, while Jonny Otto was preferred to Ruben Vinagre at left wing-back.

It took Wolves under 20 seconds to muster the first opportunity of the contest when, following a game of head tennis, Diogo Jota knocked the ball to his left for Jonny to attack Kiko Femenia before hitting a right-footed curler, which Gomes always looked confident was going wide.

The Hornets response was to win their first corner, but an under-pressure Ruddy dealt with Jose Holebas’ inswinging delivery by punching clear and Roberto Pereyra was unable to pick out anyone in yellow and black with his return cross.

The early opportunities continued to come, with Wolves winning a free-kick in a very good position around 22 yards out after Adrian Mariappa was adjudged to have fouled Jota. Joao Moutinho took the set piece right-footed but was unable to keep his effort down.

Despite being an injury doubt beforehand, Pereyra had started promisingly in a freer role behind the front two and in the 10th minute he made a break from midfield that enticed Saiss to dive in, earning the Wolves defender the game’s first yellow card from Oliver.

The game then settled for a period after that open start, but the Hornets could generally be pleased about they had set about the task in hand.

But that could have changed in the 18th minute when Jonny got into space down the left and fizzed a low delivery across the six-yard which Jota and Jimenez were both not far away from connecting with.

Pereyra was soon causing more problems, twisting and turning tight close to the byline before beating Ruben Neves, forcing the midfielder to pull him back which resulted in Oliver showing yellow for a second time.

Holebas’ resultant free-kick found Will Hughes in space on the right side of the area, but the Watford midfielder was unable to replicate his superb strike from midweek, slicing the ball up in the air.

The Hornets were increasingly controlling the game though, and it should have been rewarded with the opening goal in the 31st minute when after a good spell of possession, Deeney spotted Gray’s dart in behind and picked his strike partner out with a driven cross but he, if anything, made too good a contact and diverted the ball over Ruddy’s goal from inside the six-yard box.

It was then Wolves’ turn to go close when Neves picked up play in midfield and played the ball to his right where Leander Dendoncker let fly from 25 yards and Gomes did well, readjusting to tip over after the shot had deflected off Craig Cathcart.

Watford were not to escape a second time though. The corner on the right was played short and when the ball was clipped in by Jota, Doucuoure lost Doherty and he firmly planted a header past the helpless Gomes to give Wolves the advantage.

The Hornets were rocking and it could have got worse soon after when Jota was able to run at a retreating defence before sending a right-footed curler not too far wide of Gomes’ left-hand post.

Gracia’s men cleared their heads though, and surely would have levelled in first-half injury-time had it not been for a brilliant block.

Hughes started the business end of the move with a lofted delivery into the box which Deeney nodded down and the ball sat up invitingly for Gray to get his strike away, only for Coady to fling himself in the way to concede a corner.

The Hornets were kept waiting by their opponents at the start of the second period, who had the first opportunity when Jimenez latched on to a pass over the top and hit an angled effort from the right side of the area which Gomes parried.

Doucoure headed a Femenia cross up and tamely wide at the other end, before Wolves were almost in again when a delivery from the right had too much pace on it for the sliding Jimenez to get his attempted finish on target at the far poor, spooning the ball up in the air for Gomes to catch.

Cathcart picked up the Hornets’ first booking in the 54th minute for a foul on Jota just outside the left side of the penalty area. Neves hit the free-kick with power, sending it curling narrowly wide of the far post when the slightest of touches en route could well have resulted in a second goal.

Watford were continuing to plug away, without finding the quality or that slice of fortune to create anything clear-cut, but they were not playing with the composure they had earlier and their plight deepened markedly in the 63rd minute.

Holebas had little option but to concede a free-kick when Jota threatened to break forward, picking up a yellow card in the process. The set piece was rolled square to Doherty, who clipped the ball towards the far post where Jimenez brought the ball down on his chest, spun and planted a right-footed finish inside Gomes’ near post to make it 2-0.

The goal was checked by VAR and Jimenez was in a borderline offside position when he received Doherty’s delivery, but the goal was allowed to stand.

It came as no surprise that Deulofeu was immediately introduced from the bench, replacing Hughes, but his first real involvement was to be the subject of a VAR review following a clash with Moutinho. No further action was taken.

The Hornets’ hopes were fading fast and Wolves were almost in again when Jota’s reverse pass found Doherty in space on the right side of the area, but Holebas read the danger and picked his pocket.

But with 11 minutes remaining came that moment of quality Watford were crying out for – but it was better than quality.

It originated from a Holebas long throw from the left which Deeney contested at the near post, but when the ball fell for Deulofeu there didn’t appear too much on. But with as motion of his right leg like a wand, he magnificently chipped the ball up and inside the far corner to make it 2-1 and breathe life back into Watford’s hopes.

The Hornets’ tails were up; they won three corners in quick succession and were repeatedly knocking at the door in an effort to force extra-time.

Nuno tried to take the sting out of the situation, bringing on Bennett and Ivan Cavaliero for Neves and Jota, but in between times Watford were almost in again when Deulofeu pulled the ball back for Holebas, but he went for power and blasted high and wide.

Four minutes of additional time afforded the Hornets a final chink of light and, quite incredibly, two minutes into injury time it arrived.

The situation arose when Doucoure played in a low delivery from the right, Deeney nicked the ball away from Dendoncker, but the Belgian midfielder couldn’t help himself, made the challenge, sent the Watford skipper tumbling and Oliver had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

The Hornets skipper then had to wait while VAR check the decision, but Oliver’s verdict was upheld and Deeney jogged on the spot to compose himself before rifling the spot-kick down the middle of the goal to send one end of Wembley into absolute raptures.

Wolves were completely shell-shocked at being taken to the extra half-hour after having one foot in the final, but it was Nuno’s men who made the better start to the additional period; Moutinho seeing a shot deflected over from the left side of the area.

There was some concern when Holebas went down injured in the 96th minute but with Adam Masina ready to take his place, the Hornets’ left-back tried to continue. But it was quickly apparent his game was over.

Capoue was booked for a foul on Dendoncker before Nuno made his third change, bringing on flying machine Adama Traore for Moutinho.

Watford had dug themselves out of a large hole to take the tie to extra-time though, and in the last minute of normal time at the end of the opening period they had Wolves exactly where they wanted them.

Deeney started the sharp end of the move off with a pass into Gray who superbly held it up before slipping in Deulofeu who showed wonderful composure to take the ball into his stride and slide a finish back beyond Ruddy to make it 3-2.

Nuno made his fourth and final change before play restarted, bringing on Vinagrie for Jonny, before Femania made way for Daryl Janmaat.

Wolves increasingly had to adopt the kitchen sink approach and they had an opportunity in the 121st minute when Cavaliero swung a cross into the near post but Gomes did enough to prevent Jimenez getting a clear header on target.

Deulofeu had been injured in the build-up to that opportunity though, and he was unable to continue, making way for Ken Sema.

Wolves kept pushing though, and in the 118th minute it was almost hearts in mouths time when Cavaliero latched onto a pass inside the area and rounded Gomes, only for the ball to get caught up in his feet and Adrian Mariappa was able to clear.

The Hornets were able to see out the closing stages though, and were soon able to celebrate one of the most momentous results in the club's history.

Watford: Gomes; Femenia (Janmaat 118), Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas (Masina 98); Hughes (Deulofeu 66, Sema 122)), Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra; Gray, Deeney. Subs not used: Foster, Quina, Kabasele.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Ruddy; Saiss, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves (Bennett 86), Joao Moutinho (Traore 102), Jonny (Vinagrie 116); Jimenez, Jota (Cavaleiro 88). Subs not used: Norris, Costa, Gibbs-White.

Bookings: Saiss for a foul on Pereyra (10); Neves for a foul on Pereyra (25); Cathcart for a foul on Jota (54); Holebas for a foul on Jota (61); Capoue for a foul on Dendoncker (101).

Attendance: 80,092.

Referee: Michael Oliver.