Nottingham Forest will face Manchester United in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, after beating Wolverhampton Wanderers on penalties.
The Reds played out a feisty 1-1 draw with Wolves, managing to squeeze past them 4-3 on penalties, after some remarkable Dean Henderson saves.
After a tough start to the season, as well as a disappointing defeat against Blackpool last week, Forest were hoping to reignite some fight into this performance and get their supporters roaring once again, and they certainly did that here.
There are fewer ways better than getting to their first Carabao Cup semi-final at the City Ground since the 1991/92 season, where they beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 on aggregate, eventually losing to Manchester United in the final.
It’s been an equally tough start to the season for Wolves, already seeing the back of one manager in Bruno Lage and welcoming Julen Lopetegui in November.
However, they have managed to lift themselves off the foot of the table and, with another new attacking, loan signing in Matheus Nunes, Wolves fans will be hoping to see a stronger fight from now to stay in the Premier League, after a spirited performance ended in heartbreak.
The game began with Forest on top, pushing high up the pitch, and eventually getting their deserved goal in the 18 minute, after Morgan Gibbs-White’s corner was flicked onto the bar by Serge Aurier, and bundled in by ex-Wolves centre-back Willy Boly.
From then, until the final whistle, and with a few smart changes, including the introduction of Ruben Neves and Matheus Cunha, Wolves began controlling the game, and it paid off when, in the 64 minute through a tap in from Raul Jiminez. Wolves continued pushing, but Forest were able to hold on until full-time (after some fine Dean Henderson saves) where penalties awaited.
Sam Surridge saw Forest’s first penalty saved but, After making some fantastic saves in the game, Henderson returned the favour against Neves.
Penalties from Remo Freuler, Joe Worrall and Gibbs-White matched Wolves’ Nunes, Daniel Podence and Cunha; Joe Hodge took the final penalty for Wolves, with Henderson saving emphatically, and a huge roar erupted from A City Ground full of pure ecstasy and relief (Depeche Mode, Steve Cooper fist pumps and ‘Don’t Stop Me Now,’ never go amiss).
Performance-wise, Cooper will not be pleased with his team; Forest were lucky not to be behind at half-time, never mind after the second half. Henderson made some crucial saves, and Forest never really had much control of the game after the first 25 minutes.
But the headline is that Forest are through to the semi-finals, hosting Manchester United for a second place at Wembley in two years, against either Southampton or Newcastle United.
As exciting as the prospect of a semi-final on home turf is, Cooper will most definitely be taking it ‘one game at a time.’
With a crucial game against Leicester City looming on Saturday, the Reds’ manager will likely be taking many notes and hoping to improve vastly from the midweek display, to propel Forest further away from the dreaded bottom three.
*Article provided by Dylan Jackson (Nottingham Forest Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFC Swiss star Remo Freuler sandwiched in action against Wolves.