The Warmdown: Nottingham Forest are going to Wembley
Forest players celebrates victory during the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final match between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United at the City Ground, Nottingham on Tuesday 17th May 2022. (Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

After scoring early and gaining a 3-1 aggregate lead, the Reds were forced to take the game to penalties. Sheffield United improved during the second half and levelled the tie, with little separating the teams in extra time.

Nottingham Forest won the penalty shootout 3-2 thanks to Brice Samba's heroics and will now meet Huddersfield Town in the play-off final on May 29th at Wembley.

Game dynamic and refereeing display

Sheffield United set out to turn this game into a war.

From the start of the game, United players were leaving plenty on Forest players, without the referee Michael Oliver blowing his whistle.

Forest took a while to realise that the referee was going to let a lot of challenges go for both sides during the game, but it was working very well for United.

For the opening 90 minutes, the Blades pressed Forest at every opportunity, creating a hostile atmosphere for the Reds.

After forcibly pressing the ball into Djed Spence's stomach, Blades manager Paul Heckingbottom was lucky to stay in the dugout, but he was only booked due to the nature of the officiating.

Samba the hero

In games of this magnitude, one player usually rises to the occasion and becomes a hero. That's exactly what Brice Samba did.

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Throughout the 120 minutes of regular time, the Forest goalkeeper made some fantastic stops, including one from close range with his foot in the last stages of extra time.

The Forest fans sang 'Samba, Samba, Samba' as the game went to penalties, and the goalkeeper took his place in goal and saved the first penalty.

The Forest goalkeeper thrived on the crowd's chants and taunted the players taking penalties, tipping Conor Hourihane's onto the crossbar before saving Morgan Gibbs-White’s penalty to win the game.

On the night, Samba made four saves, completed one high claim, ten accurate long balls and made three significant penalty saves to take his team to Wembley.

Brennan breaks another record

During the game, Brennan Johnson became the first player to score in both legs of a play-off semi-final for Nottingham Forest since his dad David Johnson in 2003.

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This comes after becoming the second youngest Nottingham Forest play-offs scorer, after Andy Reid - also against Sheffield United.

The 20-year-old now has 19 goals and ten assists in all competitions this season. Only three players have scored more than 18 goals in a season for Nottingham Forest this century.

Up next: The play-off final

Nottingham Forest will head to Wembley on the 29th of May to take on Huddersfield in a game that would see the winner become a Premier League club.

After the win over Sheffield United, Forest boss Steve Cooper told the local media that the Reds are preparing for the game now, not celebrating.

“We are well planned. We will not wake up tomorrow and think 'what are we going to do now for two weeks?' We are well planned and it is time to get on with it now.”

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