Football: ‘We have to play a lot better’ says Cooper even as Forest beat Wolves to reach League Cup semis

NOTTINGHAM, England – Nottingham Forest beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-3 on penalties in their League Cup last-eight game on Wednesday to reach a Cup semi-final for the first time in over two decades.

Forest goalkeeper Dean Henderson made the decisive save from Joe Hodge’s spot kick in the shoot-out, after the game had finished 1-1 after 90 minutes, to send his side through to their first semi-final since they reached the League Cup final in 1992.

Willy Boly struck after 18 minutes against his former club to give Forest the lead, converting from close range after an initial Serge Aurier effort hit the woodwork and Wolves failed to clear.

Henderson was regularly called into action to keep his side’s lead intact and made an impressive string of close-range saves to deny Raul Jimenez and Hwang Hee-chan before the break as Wolves piled the pressure on the hosts.

They got their reward in the second half as Jimenez easily tapped home at the back post after substitute Matheus Cunha played a well-timed ball across the face of goal towards the Mexican.

Tempers frayed as the game neared the end of normal time, as Wolves had a penalty claim waved away after Matheus Nunes appeared to be tripped in the box, with Aurier, Daniel Podence, Nunes and Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui all booked for their reactions.

Despite their dominance with 66 per cent of the possession, Lopetegui’s men failed to find a way to win the game in the 90 minutes and penalty misses from Neves and Hodge in the shoot-out condemned them to defeat.

While the result provided a moment of jubilation for Forest’s fans and players, their manager Steve Cooper felt his side should have performed better across the 90 minutes.

“(I am) chuffed for the supporters and players,” Cooper told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“The objective of the tie was to get through. I can’t say I loved our performance, I shouldn’t be too negative and won’t be.

“But we have to play a lot better than we did over large spells of the game. The game was there for us to take advantage of Wolves.”


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