Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United on penalties to reach the Championship play-off final

Brice Samba saved three penalties as Nottingham Forest reached the Sky Bet Championship play-off final thanks to a 3-2 win in a nerve-wracking shootout United Kingdom of Sheffield.

The Blades had come through in that semi-final despite losing the first leg 2-1 and trailing at the City Ground against Brennan Johnson’s opener as second-half goals from Morgan Gibbs-White and John Fleck tied the game in overtime.

Samba produced a special save from Iliman Ndiaye as the tie ended at 3-3 on aggregate after 120 minutes and the Congo keeper then denied Oliver Norwood, Conor Hourihane and Gibbs-White to send Forest on. a showdown against Huddersfield at Wembley Stadium on Sunday May 29.

Johnson, Cafu and Steve Cook all scored their kicks and while Joe Lolley shot it to no consequence after Samba saved from Gibbs-White to provoke a pitch invasion from the jubilant Forest fans.

Forest, bottom of the second tier after seven games when Steve Cooper took charge in September, are now just one win away from returning to the top flight after 23 years away.

Forest took the upper hand after the first leg although they conceded late at Bramall Lane and were pushed through.

Forest were initially hesitant, pushed back into their own half as the rain fell early on, and although John Egan’s header missed the mark, it was a warning shot.

Samba saved superbly soon after, rushing out of goal to stifle Ndiaye’s shot after it was taken one-on-one thanks to Gibbs-White’s exquisite pass with the outside of the right foot.

Out of nowhere, Forest clawed back their two-goal cushion as Scott McKenna’s long ball was picked up on the left by Sam Surridge, whose square pass allowed a tense Johnson to send past Wes Foderingham.

Supported by a cacophonous crowd, the 19th-minute goal seemed to chase away Forest’s nervousness and they pushed forward with determination, although at the other end Ndiaye saw a shot through a comfortably saved crowd.

Tensions boiled over before half-time when Paul Heckingbottom appeared to clash with Djed Spence trailing on the touchline and shoved the ball into the defender’s gut, sparking an unseemly scrum that ended with the boss of Sheffield United receiving a yellow card from referee Michael Oliver.

But any thoughts the visitors were getting desperate were extinguished as this time they punished Forest for being slow out of the traps again two minutes into the restart to bring the tie to life.

Gibbs-White provided the finish, sweeping Samba low from Sander Berge at the near post, moments after Cook produced a last-minute tackle to thwart Ndiaye as he ran for goal.

Nerves around the ground intensified as Sheffield United enjoyed a period of sustained pressure, with Forest unable to mount much in response, and they were rewarded in the 75th minute as George Baldock’s cross after a blazing run on the right was returned by Fleck to level the scores on the set.

Things almost got worse for Forest when McKenna overshot a backpass past a scrambling Samba and both players were relieved to see the ball drift away harmlessly, signaling an extra 30 minutes.

Sheffield United had the first chance as Gibbs-White fired at Samba from a sharp angle before Forest substitutes Lolley and Keinan Davis combined, the latter pushing a leg past a cross which Foderingham prevented.

Sheffield United might have won late but Samba produced a stunning close-range save to prevent Ndiaye from six yards out, although the keeper’s heart would have been in his mouth at death when former Forest defender Jack Robinson , succumbed to his challenge.

Oliver did not point out the spot or issue Robinson what would have been a second booking as the game went to penalties.

Samba guessed right to deny Norwood then swung Hourihane’s effort over the bar before saving into the corner from Gibbs-White to set off frantic scenes on a memorable evening for Forest.

Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United on penalties to reach the Championship play-off final

Source link Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United on penalties to reach the Championship play-off final

Back to top button