Troy Deeney booked Watford’s place in the Championship play-off final with a 96th-minute strike in a 3-1 win over Leicester City on Sunday.
Leicester held a 1-0 advantage from their first-leg win on home soil on Thursday but saw that wiped out in an incredible encounter at Vicarage Road.
Deeney volleyed in at the death to cap a dramatic injury-time period immediately after Leicester’s Anthony Knockaert had seen his spot-kick saved by Manuel Almunia following a controversial decision by referee Michael Oliver.
Watford had taken the lead through a spectacular volley from Matej Vydra after 15 minutes before David Nugent bundled home an equaliser four minutes later.
Vydra netted again 20 minutes into the second half to level the tie on aggregate once more, but Watford boss Gianfranco Zola will have been fearing the worst when the visitors were awarded a dubious penalty after Marco Cassetti was ruled to have fouled Knockaert.
The Frenchman recovered his composure to try his luck from 12 yards but saw Almunia produce a heroic save before denying the winger from the rebound.
Watford executed a quick counter-attack which was finished off by Deeney, who latched on to Jonathan Hogg’s knock-down to deliver a thunderous finish and take Zola’s men to Wembley.
The former West Ham boss was delighted to have reached the final and felt his side’s performance merited victory.
He said: “I think we deserved something today and we have to make sure to win the next game. When I saw their penalty, I felt bad. It was meant to be. We are going to be much stronger after this game.
“We have been working very hard and suffering this season – I think we deserve to be there.”
Match-winner Deeney was somewhat more reserved and was eager to credit Leicester for their part in an enthralling encounter, made all the more remarkable by the fact referee Oliver also officiated the match between Brentford and Doncaster, where a similar scenario unfolded on the last day of the League One season.
“I could cry,” Deeney said. “It’s heartbreaking, I feel for their guy who missed the penalty. It’s a ruthless game and I’m happy we’re the ones celebrating.”
Watford will face either Crystal Palace or Brighton & Hove Albion, who will play their second leg on Monday, in the final.