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Heartbreak for Irish stars as Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United on penalties in playoff semis

Steve Cooper’s side are now one game away from promotion to the Premier League.

Nottingham Forest's Brennan Johnson celebrates scoring.
Nottingham Forest's Brennan Johnson celebrates scoring.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

NOTTINGHAM FOREST beat Sheffield United 3-2 on penalties this evening to reach the Championship play-off final on a dramatic night at the City Ground.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Sheffield United won by the same scoreline on the night to take the game to penalties.

It was a disappointing evening for the four Irish players on the books at the Blades — John Egan, Conor Hourihane, Enda Stevens and David McGoldrick, though it was recently announced that the latter is set to be released.

On the other hand, it was a joyful occasion for Forest, who had looked set for Wembley when Brennan Johnson blasted into the top corner on 19 minutes.

However, the Blades fought back after the break as goals from Morgan Gibbs-White and John Fleck sent the tie to extra-time.

The visitors were only denied a remarkable fightback by a brilliant save from Brice Samba five minutes from time as he spread himself to block Iliman Ndiaye’s effort.

And Samba was the Forest hero in the shootout as he saved from Oliver Norwood, Hourihane and Gibbs-White.

Johnson, Cafu and Steve Cook scored from the spot for Steve Cooper’s men to continue an incredible turnaround in fortunes at the City Ground.

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Forest were bottom of the table when Chris Hughton was sacked in September.

They narrowly missed out on automatic promotion behind Fulham and Bournemouth, but will have another shot in the richest game in world football when they face Huddersfield at Wembley on 29 May.

– © AFP 2022

Additional reporting by Paul Fennessy 

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