Wat­ford hero Gomes happy to step aside at Wem­b­ley

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - By Jon Cul­ley at the Hawthorns

Heurelho Gomes is so happy with life at Wat­ford that he will not com­plain if he has to watch from the sub­sti­tutes’ bench at Wem­b­ley next Sun­day.

Cos­tel Pan­til­imon has been Wat­ford’s FA Cup goal­keeper since he ar­rived from Sun­der­land in Jan­uary and head coach Quique Sánchez Flores is ex­pected to keep faith with the 6ft 8in Ro­ma­nian for the semi­fi­nal against Crys­tal Palace de­spite Gomes sav­ing two penal­ties in an out­stand­ing per­for­mance at the Hawthorns.

Yet af­ter his tor­rid time at Tot­ten­ham, where a se­ries of high­pro­file mis­takes cost him his place and meant his rep­u­ta­tion was ridiculed, the 35-year-old Brazil­ian ad­mits he is so grate­ful to feel loved again he will step aside grace­fully.

“It is up to the head coach to de­cide and I will be pre­pared to play,” Gomes said. “But if he chooses to go with Panti I will not be dis­ap­pointed. He has played in more cup games.” Gomes joined team-mates in cross­ing the field to ap­plaud Wat­ford sup­port­ers af­ter Satur­day’s win – only their third in 16 Premier League matches – took his side a step closer to sur­vival.

“I feel loved again,” he said. “When the peo­ple like Wat­ford gave me the sup­port like they did, from the be­gin­ning, it’s great for the player. I find my place and I feel loved over here.”

The two penalty saves, both from Saido Ber­ahino, gave Gomes his 11th clean sheet of the sea­son as Wat­ford pro­tected the 27th-minute lead pro­vided when Ben Wat­son turned in Adlène Gue­dioura’s cor­ner. Flores praised his goal­keeper for “al­ways think­ing about the op­po­nents” but Gomes con­fessed it was more spur-of-the-mo­ment think­ing that en­abled him to out­psy­che Ber­ahino.

“I don’t know if he heard it – but in the first one I said, ‘It’s your re­spon­si­bil­ity, not mine’. In the sec­ond one I just said, ‘ You again?’”

Wat­ford had slipped from seventh to 15th be­fore this re­sult, yet Flores main­tains his team have ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions. “We started with the feel­ing that maybe, in this amaz­ing league, we could suf­fer in ev­ery sin­gle match,” he said. “But maybe in only four or five matches we have felt the op­pos­ing team is com­pletely bet­ter than us.”

Man of the mo­ment: Heurelho Gomes, who saved two penal­ties from Saido Ber­ahino, says he ‘feels loved’ again af­ter a string of fine dis­plays

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