Championship play-offs: Anthony Knockaert 'distraught' after penalty miss for Leicester
Spot-kick would have sent Leicester to Wembley
Monday 13 May 2013
Anthony Knockaert was “distraught” after his penalty miss cost Leicester a place in the npower Championship play-off final.
The winger, whose goal against Nottingham Forest on the final day of the season secured Leicester's place in the top six, had the chance to fire the Foxes to Wembley in the 95th minute of a dramatic second leg at Watford.
But Manuel Almunia saved his spot-kick, and the rebound, and within 60 seconds Watford had broken away and secured an amazing 3-2 aggregate victory courtesy of Troy Deeney's goal - in the seventh minute of injury time.
"Anthony is distraught as you would expect," admitted City manager Nigel Pearson.
"I'm the first to admit it was a generous penalty decision. But to concede off the resulting penalty save is very hard to take.
"Unfortunately that's the nature of the beast. It can be a very cruel game at times and for the players to experience that is very tough."
Watford trailed 1-0 from the first leg and twice levelled the tie on aggregate through Matej Vydra - his first a stunning volley Robin van Persie would have been proud of - either side of David Nugent's header.
Yet the Hornets' promotion dream looked over when, with the teams tied at 2-2 on aggregate, Marco Cassetti nudged Knockaert in the area and referee Michael Oliver awarded Leicester a spot-kick.
But Almunia blocked Knockaerts' penalty, and the rebound, and moments later Deeney struck the knockout blow.
In scenes reminiscent of Doncaster's breakaway goal to snatch promotion from Brentford a fortnight go - when the same referee gave the Bees a penalty - Watford charged upfield.
Fernando Forestieri swung in a cross from the right and Jonathan Hogg's header back across goal fell to Deeney, who thumped the ball home before jumping into the crowd to celebrate with his family.
Deeney, who has scored 20 goals this term despite beginning the season in prison for affray, said: "I'm not really a crier but that was emotional.
"As soon as Manu saved it I knew we would score.
"There was no way I was placing it, if the keeper had saved it he was ending up in the goal as well.
"Considering the start of the year I had, to score 20 goals and get the winner is very satisfying."
The Hornets will play the winner of tonight's clash between Brighton and Crystal Palace in the final on May 27.
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