Dean Henderson sets up Manchester United semi-final but will miss out

After a 1-1 draw, Dean Henderson saved two penalties as Nottingham Forest reached the Carabao Cup semi-finals with a 4-3 shootout win against Wolves

Dean Henderson, fresh from a match-winning penalty shootout save, hurtled towards the Brian Clough Stand and slid on his backside, arms outstretched before the home supporters, wrapped up in savouring Nottingham Forest’s progress to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup. Henderson cupped his ears after saving Wolves’s first spot-kick, from Rúben Neves, prompting the Forest faithful to serenade him before the rest – “Deano, Deano!” – so he was hardly going to go shrivel into his shell after diving down to his right to deny the substitute Joe Hodge and clinch victory.

Henderson channelled Brice Samba, the former Forest goalkeeper whose shootout heroics sealed passage to Wembley last May, by referring to a water bottle scribbled with his homework on the opposition penalty takers while the celebrations of the former Wolves forward Morgan Gibbs-White, who joined Forest last summer, had shades of Emmanuel Adebayor’s infamous sprint towards Arsenal fans at the Etihad Stadium in 2009.

Henderson darted in one direction, Gibbs-White another, sliding towards the Wolves fans behind the goal. After scoring his penalty Gibbs-White made a point of swivelling towards the Wolves support and putting his fingers in his ears.

Henderson would soon emulate Gibbs-White in taunting the away fans and it is fair to say the celebrations went down badly with Wolves. Toti Gomes, Adama Traoré and Matheus Cunha took issue with Forest’s celebrations and a fracas ensued, prompting stewards to intervene. The penalties provided a final dose of drama after a lively contest. Willy Boly, the former Wolves defender, had given Forest a first-half lead, tapping in on the line after a Gibbs-White corner caused panic in the Wolves box before Raúl Jiménez equalised in the second half with an equally simple finish.

The galling thing for Forest and Henderson is that the on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper will be ineligible to play against his parent club in the two-legged semi-final. Still, this was a night to cherish for Forest. As Just Can’t Get Enough blared from the speakers, the home fans rejoiced in reaching their first League Cup semi-final since 1992.

Nottingham Forest’s Serge Aurier flicks the ball on for Willy Boly to tap in the opening goal
Nottingham Forest’s Serge Aurier flicks the ball on for Willy Boly to tap in the opening goal. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA

“I’m really pleased for our supporters,” said Forest’s head coach, Steve Cooper. “It’s given our older generation a chance to reminisce and our younger generation to enter new territory and that will always be important to me.”

Forest’s rich history in this competition is just about everywhere Cooper looks at the City Ground. There is the picture of Brian Clough in his office and the hoardings in the top tier of the stand bearing Clough’s name that proudly offer a reminder of the trophies in the club’s cabinet – the 1978 League Cup, their first triumph in the competition, are directly opposite Cooper’s technical area.

Before kick-off the Trent End unravelled a display of their own; the words “New Team Same Dreams” were draped across the stand beside images of their triumphs of yesteryear under Clough, when they won the League Cup four times in 12 years, a magical era during which they lifted the First Division title and were also twice crowned champions of Europe. Towards the end of last year Cooper picked the brains of Nigel Clough, now manager of League Two Mansfield Town, over a cup of tea after a training game between the sides.

The omens were not good for Wolves given they had won once this season after conceding first but they responded well before the interval and would have levelled but for Henderson. Moments after Gonçalo Guedes, replaced by Neves at half-time, registered Wolves’ first shot on target on 35 minutes, Henderson superbly denied Jiménez when one on one with the striker. A couple of minutes later Henderson repelled Hwang Hee-chan’s crisp volley from Jiménez’s cross after the South Korea forward peeled off the returning Forest captain, Joe Worrall, who was among those to score in the shootout.

After being humbled by Blackpool in the FA Cup last weekend Forest’s motivation to succeed was even stronger. Gustavo Scarpa, who in December became Forest’s 23rd signing of the season, was the only player to keep his place. Wolves, meanwhile, made six changes from their 2-2 draw at Anfield on Saturday, when they were left reeling after Toti Gomes’s late winner was ruled offside.

Wolves complained to Howard Webb, the head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, and also contacted the Football Association, but the reality is they face a third-round replay against Liverpool on Tuesday. Given the scenes on the pitch at the end of this game, the FA are in for a busy few days.


Ben Fisher at the City Ground

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