What the papers say: Nottingham Forest 1-2 Sheffield United

After winning on penalties, Nottingham Forest are finally off to Wembley following an enthralling play-off semi-final with Sheffield United at the City Ground. Here’s what the national newspapers had to say

The Guardian

They may have lost the battle but they still won the war. Nottingham Forest, defeated at home for only the second time this year, booked their first visit to Wembley since 1992 after Brice Samba saved three penalties in the shootout to secure a Championship play-off final date with Huddersfield Town on 29 May.

Sheffield United may have joined Liverpool as the only other team to have beaten Steve Cooper’s side in a game at the City Ground in 2022 but ultimately Forest’s remarkable rise from the foot of the Championship to the brink of promotion to the Premier League is still on.

Samba, the mercurial Congolese goalkeeper, saved from Oliver Norwood, Conor Hourihane and Morgan Gibbs White to extend United’s hoodoo in the play-offs. Nine times now they have failed to gain promotion from the end of season jamboree.


The Times

Nottingham Forest are one game away from ending 23 years of hurt without Premier League football after beating Sheffield United in the play-off semi final. Though their goalkeeper, Brice Samba, was their hero on the night the real magician is the man in the dugout.

Steve Cooper may not have the standing of the famous managers of Forest’s past but if this side win at Wembley a week on Sunday he will be forever revered in their history books.

The Forest boss rightly lapped up the adulation from the adoring Forest support as he embarked on his own lap of honour. When he took over this side in September Forest were bottom of the Sky Bet Championship and his remarkable transformation of this side has put them on the brink of a return to the top tier for the first time since 1999.


The Independent

Brice Samba saved three penalties as Nottingham Forest reached the Sky Bet Championship play-off final courtesy of a nerve-shredding 3-2 shootout win over Sheffield United.

The Blades had dragged themselves back into this semi-final despite losing the first leg 2-1 and trailing at the City Ground to Brennan Johnson’s opener as second-half goals from Morgan Gibbs-White and John Fleck took the tie to extra-time.

Samba produced a special save from Iliman Ndiaye as the tie finished level at 3-3 on aggregate after 120 minutes and the Congolese goalkeeper then denied Oliver Norwood, Conor Hourihane and Gibbs-White to send Forest through to a showdown against Huddersfield at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, May 29.


The Telegraph

Nottingham Forest booked a first appearance at Wembley since 1992 and now have the Premier League in their sights, but scenes which accompanied it left a sour taste.

Steve Cooper’s remarkable transformation at the City Ground could yet end with promotion, after goalkeeper Brice Samba’s heroics in a penalty shoot-out booked a place in the Championship play-off final against Huddersfield Town on May 29.

Samba saved from Oliver Norwood, Conor Hourihane and Morgan Gibbs-White to condemn Sheffield United to a ninth play-off failure and present Forest with a chance to return to the top division for the first time in 23 years.


The Mail

Forest went into Tuesday night’s second leg with a 2-1 advantage from the first game at Bramall Lane. Johnson scored after 19 minutes to extend this lead.

However, the Blades fought back well in the second-half and goals from Gibbs-White and Fleck levelled up the aggregate score at 3-3, leading to a scoreless period of extra time and then penalties.

Samba said: ‘I definitely enjoyed the shoot-out. I am happy to go to Wembley.’

He had earlier made a number of crucial saves to keep Forest in the game in the 120 minutes. They will now play Huddersfield Town for a place in the Premier League on May 29.


The Mirror

Nottingham Forest are within one more win of a long-awaited Premier League return after an epic penalty shoot-out win.

Steve Cooper’s side sealed a 3-2 win on spot-kicks over Sheffield United after the score finished 3-3 after extra-time on aggregate at a vibrant City Ground in the second leg of their pulsating Championship play-off semi-final. They will now meet Huddersfield Town in the showpiece final at Wembley on Sunday, May 29 with the winners guaranteed a place in next season’s top flight.

Brennan Johnson opened the scoring to give Forest a two-goal lead in the tie early on – an advantage they took into half-time. United needed a response after the interval and Morgan Gibbs-White provided it within two minutes of the restart, equalising on the night. And then they drew level in the tie when John Fleck was on hand to tap in after superb work from George Baldock down the right flank.


The Sun

Still there was nothing to separate them after extra-time.

That was until Brice Samba made his mark on proceedings, saving THREE Sheffield United penalties to send his team to Wembley.

Cue the pitch invasion from jubilant Forest fans.

The two-time European champions know they are now just one game away from a spot back in the big time after 23 years away.

The Blades’ first two takers Oliver Norwood and Conor Hourihane were both brilliantly denied by Samba.

But when Joe Lolley blazed one over for Forest things began to get interesting.

Samba though stepped up once again to deny Gibbs-White and book Forest a first-ever trip to the new Wembley.