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Deulofeu leads stunning comeback, Watford reaches FA Cup Final (video)

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  • Doherty puts Wolves ahead
  • Jimenez makes it 2-0 with terrific goal, celebration (video)
  • Deulofeu pulls one back with stunning chip
  • Wolves to meet Man City in final

Gerard Deulofeu scored two goals including the extra time winner as Watford came back from two down to beat Wolves 3-2 in a thrilling FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Watford will tangle with Manchester City in the FA Cup Final on May 18 at Wembley Stadium.

Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez scored Wolves, who led 2-0 with 10 minutes to play.

Troy Deeney scored Watford’s other goal, while Deulofeu’s markers were his eighth and ninth of the season to go with five assists.

[ MORE: Everton 1-0 Arsenal ]

Andre Gray leapt in a bid to chop a terrific Troy Deeney cross over the bar, but a header would’ve been wiser and Gray’s kick popped over the frame.

Heurelho Gomes reacted quickly to parry a deflected Leander Dendoncker shot over the goal.

Wolves went ahead through a training ground corner kick, Doherty getting in front of Abdoulaye Doucoure to nod a left-footed cross past Gomes.

Deeney cued up Gray for another chance in first half stoppage, but the latter’s smash sliced off Wolves defender Conor Coady for a corner kick.

Jimenez doubled Wolves lead in sensational fashion, chesting a cross into position for an airborne volley past Gomes.

But it wasn’t over thanks to genius from substitute Deulofeu, who chipped the keeper from a wild angle to make it 2-0.

Dendoncker caught Deeney’s foot in the box during stoppage time, and Watford hit the penalty spot with a bid to make it 2-2.

https://twitter.com/OptaJoe/status/1114935039047929856

It was off to extra time!

WATCH: Mexico’s Jimenez celebrates sensational goal with WWE mask

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Mexican striker Raul Jimenez continued his outstanding debut Premier League season with a goal that may just ensure Wolves’ place in the FA Cup Final against Manchester City.

The celebration was pretty great as well, as Jimenez emphasized his 16th goal in all competitions with a lucha libre mask.

[ MORE: Everton 1-0 Arsenal ]

A Matt Doherty goal has Wolves up 1-0 on Sunday at Wembley Stadium when Jimenez found himself in a mass of humanity awaiting a cross.

That’s when Jimenez leapt and chested a cross into position for an airborne volley past Gomes.

It was magnificent, and the 27-year-old El Tri striker was ready with his mask.

Wolves officially completes record permanent signing of Jimenez

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Wolverhampton Wanderers smashed the club transfer record to pieces by officially announcing the permanent capture of Benfica loanee Raul Jimenez, one of the breakout players of the Premier League season.

The club teased the signing on Wednesday with a tweet, and confirmed the deal Thursday morning. While the official release did not confirm a monetary figure on the deal – somewhat rare for record signings – reports suggest the figure is between $39 million and $42 million, blasting the old transfer record set last summer by signing Adama Traore for $23.6 million.

Jimenez has been a critical figure to Wolves’ surprisingly successful return to the Premier League. After joining in the summer on loan from Benfica following Wolves’ promotion via the Championship crown, Jimenez has been involved in 48% of the club’s Premier League goals this season – the highest in the league – scoring 12 and assisting seven more. He has appeared in every Premier League match for Wolves this season and has started all but two, earning a 2,594 minutes out of a possible 2,970 so far.

“The impact Raul has made during his short time at the club has been fantastic and we’re delighted that he’ll be part of the club’s long-term future,” said Wolves sporting director Kevin Thelwell in the official club release. “From the second he walked through the door, he settled straight into the group, and that reflects in his performance, with Raul providing assists and overall selfless performances, as well as obviously goals.”

After completing the deal, Jimenez has signed a four-year contract at Wolves which will keep him at Monlieux through the summer of 2023.

“It’s a great honour for me to now be a permanent member of the team. I’m very happy for this permanent deal as I feel that being at Wolves suits me,” Jimenez said in the official release. “I’ve enjoyed my time here, I enjoy playing in the pitch and, along with all my team-mates, we try our best in all the matches to win. Since I’ve arrived here it’s all been so good. We’ve had some good moments, some bad moments; but the best ones have been so good and I’m very happy for that.”

Jimenez has quickly emerged as a key member of the spine of Wolves this season. He has molded a devastating partnership with Diogo Jota up front, and along with 22-year-old midfielder Ruben Neves, the three have become the face of a dangerous Premier League club. While fellow promoted side Fulham spent big this summer to no avail, officially relegated this past weekend, Wolves has risen to seventh in the Premier League table with shrewd targeted spending. They have earned wins in league play over Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham this season, plus draws against Manchester City and Arsenal.

While Jimenez was not a key contributor during Mexico’s stay in the 2018 World Cup, he has earned a more significant role with his performance in the Premier League this season. He has started in four of the eight friendlies since the end of the World Cup, scoring three goals, including one this past international break in a 3-1 win over Chile.

Wolves confirmed that the transfer fee paid to Benfica was pre-set at the beginning of the season, an option to purchase in his loan deal triggered by the Premier League club. Considering Jimenez was not a regular for Benfica last season – appearing 33 times in league play but 28 of those off the bench – the financial haul for the Portuguese club is a significant one.

Report: Wolves set to announce $40m Jimenez purchase

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You could argue no player has been more valuable to his Premier League club than Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Benfica loanee Raul Jimenez, and Wolves supporters would probably agree with that notion.

The Express and Star says Wolves will announce a $40 million purchase of the Mexican star on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LUNA Bar pledges to make up roster pay gap for USWNT ]

Jimenez has 15 goals in all competitions for Wolves, including 12 goals and adding eight assists in league play.

He had an assist in Tuesday’s defeat of Manchester United, and has 15 goals in 69 caps for the Mexican national team.

He turns 28 next month, helping to set the market for veteran center forwards. And with Wolves having two chances to qualify for the Europa League, either by winning the FA Cup or finishing 7th in the Premier League,

Who’s in the running for Premier League Player of the Year?

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The Premier League Player of the Year is missing its easy winner this go-round.

There’s no Mohamed Salah running away with the scoring record, no Eden Hazard or N'Golo Kante as the clear best player on the champion.

[ MORE: Key games left in the PL season ]

So let’s take a look at where the race stands heading into the final international break of the season.

The contenders

Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool: Like N’Golo Kante before him, there’s a massive underdog status to a non-striker winning the Premier League’s Player of the Year (and you might want to argue that Kante deserved a Ballon d’Or finalist position). Flub against Fulham aside, few Premier League defenders have made their case in the past as well as Van Dijk has this season. Due to his status on a team who has a lot of the ball, it’s difficult to find super gaudy defensive numbers to make his case. Still, when taking into account Premier League center backs to play more than half their teams’ matches this season, no one on advanced stats site WhoScored is close to VVD. He also doesn’t have a “times dribbled past” per-match average on the site.

Eden Hazard, Chelsea: For years, Chelsea has gone as Eden Hazard. The Belgian is unquestionably one of the most talented players in the world, and is effervescent in attack. Sure, Chelsea’s also suffered through periods of head-scratching results and effort — nothing new at Stamford Bridge and he’s one of the only players to be a part of the downfalls of Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, and presumably Maurizio Sarri — but his 13 goals and 11 assists make him the only player to reach double figures in both categories this season. And imagine how high that assist total could be with Alvaro Morata or Gonzalo Higuain finishing at an average or above-average clip.

Raheem Sterling, Man City: At Liverpool a few years ago, it would’ve been accurate to call Sterling, “the kid with the abysmal second touch.” But the Englishman has become better and better by the season, and he’s actually the most economical star in the running for the PL’s Golden Boot; His 2.1 shots per game is less than Sergio Aguero (3.7), Mohamed Salah (3.4), Harry Kane (3.6), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2.6), Hazard (2.6), and Sadio Mane (2.4). Only Hazard and Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser have more assists.

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool: His average second-half of the season is going to make it difficult for him to repeat as PL Player of the Year, especially considering he has just one goal with no assists in eight matches since Jan. 30 (and four of those were 0-0 or 1-1 draws). Yet it’d be wrong to discount his 17 goals and six assists through 24 matches, and a strong finish could make him a Golden Boot, Premier League, and Champions League winner. That’s not crazy.

Sergio Aguero, Manchester City: Eighteen goals and six assists make him one of four players to combine for 24 goals of production this season, and the 30-year-old may be get sympathetic votes given his surprising lack of honors during a torrential tenure in the Premier League. His three hat tricks should live in the memory of some voters, too, especially since two came against Arsenal and Chelsea. He’s there when you need him, that’s for sure.

Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur: Right in the Golden Boot race despite missing four matches with torn ankle ligaments, Kane has 17 goals and four assists for Spurs this season. Not that the League Cup should come into play in a PL season vote, but Spurs’ star could well be holding silverware in voters’ minds if he hadn’t been hurt before the second leg against Chelsea. Three matches against Pep Guardiola and Man City in the next few weeks will either help or hurt his argument (again, only one of those comes in league play).

FINALLY, “THE WILD CARD” — He’s not going to win this award, and probably won’t be on any short lists besides this post, but spare a though for Raul Jimenez of Wolves. The Mexican striker has been a part of 18 league markers for Nuno Espirito Santo (12 goals, six assists) during his first ever Premier League season.

He’s scored against Chelsea twice, Spurs twice, and assisted versus Manchester United, and Arsenal. Wolves are 10W-4D-2L when he gets a goal or an assist, and 2W-3D-9L when he doesn’t produce magic.

And let’s be honest: Is one of the key players above leading their team to a title as impressive as what Jimenez has done keeping his newly-promoted side in the race for a Europa League place (even given what Wolves spent around him)?

Honestly, he’s in my Top Three with Sterling and Van Dijk. Hazard is probably fourth, with Kane, Aguero, and Salah a bit behind.