Nottingham Forest 0-1 Liverpool: Jota goal edges Reds into FA Cup semi-final
Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool progressed to the semi-finals of the FA Cup as they edged past a stubborn Nottingham Forest side in a 1-0 victory at the City Ground.

Diogo Jota’s neat finish with just ten minutes left to play was enough to see Jurgen Klopp’s side past Forest, who more than matched their Premier League opponents for the course of the 90 minutes.

With the draw for the semi-finals completed before the fixture, Liverpool will face title-rivals Manchester City at Wembley on April 16 for a place in the final.

Story of the game

Forest came into the game having already taken the scalps of Arsenal and Leicester City en route to the quarter-finals and were in fine form overall, losing just one of 14 matches in 2022, which has them right in the play-off mix in the Championship.

Liverpool were in even better form, but with a rapturous City Ground atmosphere at their backs and some key absentees, including attacking aces Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, Klopp and his side knew they were in for a challenging game.

With neither Steve Cook nor Scott McKenna available, Cooper switched from his preferred 3-4-1-2 set-up to a back four, with Jack Colback slotting in as a makeshift left-back, with Max Lowe also unavailable through injury.

Despite playing in an unfamiliar set-up, the home side started positively, countering in numbers when winning the ball back in the defensive third. Keinan Davis held the ball up well and brought the wide players into play.

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Liverpool did look dangerous going forward despite rotating heavily in that area of the pitch. However, Forest did well to limit their efforts to outside the area in the first 20 minutes of the game, with Kostas Tsimikas and Joe Gomez trying their luck from range.

Roberto Firmino had a golden chance to open the scoring when he stole the ball from Colback to put himself through on goal.

Firmino tried to draw Ethan Horvath out of his goal and attempted an audacious chip, but the American shot-stopper was equal to it to keep the scores level and spare his left-back’s blushes.

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The visitors dominated possession of the ball and had Forest camped in their own half for the majority of the first period. Still, Cooper’s side were resilient in defence, pressing intensely and as a unit in the right areas to limit clear-cut opportunities.

Both teams continued to press high up the pitch out of possession as the game maintained a similarly high intensity at the start of the second half.

Liverpool continued to dominate possession of the ball but seemed to lack pace and incisiveness with the ball in the final third without the usual front three on the pitch.

Klopp made four substitutions in one go just past the hour mark to try and reinvigorate his team, with Luis Diaz and Takumi Minamino coming on to add that much-needed pace to the visitor's forward line.

Forest had to be patient in creating chances of their own, in favour of keeping their opponents at bay and were almost rewarded for their solidity when Brennan Johnson broke down the right-hand side and found Philip Zinkernagel in space.

The Forest winger had the whole goal to aim at but couldn’t direct Johnson’s cross goalwards, which became a chance they would come to rue minutes later.

Liverpool found that elusive goal on the cusp of the 80th-minute mark when Tsiminkas’ in-swinging cross from the left was met by a stretching Diogo Jota, who kept himself onside to put his side in front.

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The home side pushed hard for a last-gasp equaliser. Ryan Yates had penalty appeals waved away after he went down under a challenge from Alisson before the midfielder headed straight at the goalkeeper from close range minutes later. 

That was as good as it got for Forest, who put up a good fight but would ultimately succumb to the attacking prowess of the Premier League opponents.

Man of the match

Liverpool – Kostas Tsimikas

The Greek international provided the vital cross, which unlocked a stubborn Forest backline and looked solid defensively with three completed tackles.

The Liverpool left-back did well to keep the highly-rated Johnson quiet for extended periods of the game while serving as an essential attacking outlet for his side.