HEADING TO WEMBLEY

Forest into play-off final after shootout win

Thousands of joyous Forest fans spilled onto the pitch when Samba saved Gibbs-White’s weak penalty after the two legs finished 3-3 on aggregate.

In Summary

• After the game, Blades manager Paul Heckingbottom said Sharp was “shook up and bleeding”.

• Johnson, Cafu and Steve Cook scored their efforts for Forest before Joe Lolley sent his over the bar, which set Samba up to make the save from Gibbs-White that sent Forest to Wembley for the first time in 30 years.

Nottingham Forest's Cafu celebrates with fans after reaching the Championship play-off final
Nottingham Forest's Cafu celebrates with fans after reaching the Championship play-off final
Image: REUTERS

Nottingham Forest beat Sheffield United on penalties to set up a Championship play-off final meeting with Huddersfield Town despite losing a drama-packed semi-final second leg at the City Ground.

Brice Samba produced goalkeeping heroics for the hosts at the end of a pulsating tie, saving spot-kicks from Ollie Norwood, Conor Hourihane and Morgan Gibbs-White.

Thousands of joyous Forest fans spilled onto the pitch when Samba saved Gibbs-White’s weak penalty after the two legs finished 3-3 on aggregate.

However, the scenes of celebration were marred by one fan charging into Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp, knocking him to the ground.

After the game, Blades manager Paul Heckingbottom said Sharp was “shook up and bleeding”.

Brennan Johnson had added to Forest’s 2-1 aggregate lead from the first leg with a sliding first-half finish, but second-half goals from Gibbs-White and John Fleck sent the game to extra time.

It took a fine reflex save from Samba to keep Iliman Ndiaye out in the 115th minute and force the game to a shootout.

The Congolese goalkeeper immediately gave Forest the advantage by saving United’s first two attempts.

Johnson, Cafu and Steve Cook scored their efforts for Forest before Joe Lolley sent his over the bar, which set Samba up to make the save from Gibbs-White that sent Forest to Wembley for the first time in 30 years.

The showdown with the Terriers on Sunday, 29 May will be Forest’s first ever play-off final at any level.

Victory in what is often cited as the richest game in football would end Forest’s 23-year Premier League absence.

Sheffield United’s shootout defeat extends the club’s woeful play-off record to nine failed attempts from nine campaigns, and denies them a chance of making an immediate top-flight return.