sport news Championship: Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United on penalties to reach ... trends now
One more win to end 23 years of pain. That is the equation for Nottingham Forest, who will return to the Premier League for the first time this century if they can beat Huddersfield Town at Wembley on May 29.
Brice Samba was the hero in the penalty shoot-out, saving three of Sheffield United’s efforts, after an evening of agonising tension on the banks of the Trent.
After Samba had kept out the final kick from Morgan Gibbs-White, fans spilled on to the pitch and chants of ‘Que Sera, Sera’ filled the night air. What a job performed by Steve Cooper, who took charge last autumn with the club bottom of the table.
Brice Samba (L) was the hero as Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United on penalties to reach the Championship playoff final
It was tough on the Blades, who had performed brilliantly on the night. But the football romantics who remember the days of Brian Clough and the European Cup wins of 1979 and 1980 will enjoy Forest’s progress.
Leading 2-1 from the first leg, Forest looked to have sealed their spot in the Championship play-off Final when Brennan Johnson put them in front against the run of play just before the 20-minute mark – emulating his father David by scoring in both legs of a play-off semi-final.
But after their manager Paul Heckingbottom was booked for inciting a brawl late in the first half, Gibbs-White equalised for United soon after the interval and John Fleck brought the tie level on aggregate with 15 minutes left.
Brennan Johnson gave Forest the lead on the night and moved them 3-1 ahead on aggregate
Johnson's strike was the perfect start for the hosts, who had one foot in the playoff final
This was only the second time in 2022 Forest had been beaten inside 90 minutes at home, after their FA Cup defeat by Liverpool earlier in the campaign.
Nottingham Forest (3-4-1-2): Samba 8; Worrall 6, Cook 6.5, McKenna 6.5; Spence 5.5, Yates 6, Garner 5.5, Colback 6; Zinckernagel 5.5 (Lolley 70, 6); Johnson 6.5, Surridge 6 (Davis 75, 6). Subs not used: Horvath, Figueiredo, Laryea, Mighten, Cafu.
Scorers: Johnson 19
Manager: Steve Cooper 6
Sheffield United (3-4-1-2): Foderingham 6; Basham 6.5, Egan 6, Robinson 6.5; Baldock 6.5 (Osborn 108, 6), Norwood 7.5, Fleck 7 (Hourihane 109, 6), Norrington-Davies 7; Berge 6.5; Gibbs-White 7.5, Ndiaye 6. Subs not used: A Davies, B Davies, Uremovic, Osula, Jebbison.
Scorers: Gibbs-White 47, Fleck 75
Booked: Heckingbottom, Robinson
Manager: Paul Heckingbottom 6.5
Referee: Michael Oliver 5.5
There were fireworks outside the ground an hour before kick-off and as the sides walked out, Forest fans unfurled two huge banners paying tribute to their glorious past and forecasting a similar present.
Yet Sander Berge’s stoppage-time goal in the first leg had changed the feel of the tie and Forest looked nervous in the early stages, particularly when Jack Robinson launched huge throw-ins into their six-yard box.
From one in the 10th minute, John Egan was left unmarked in the centre of the box and let Forest off the hook when he guided his