Nottingham Forest scripted a seismic FA Cup upset on Sunday as the Championship side edged holders Arsenal 2-1 at the City Ground and caretaker-manager Alan Brazil was understandably ecstatic after overseeing a memorable triumph.
“That was a fantastic day for the football club. I may be a little bit biased but I think it was a well-deserved win. There were some big performances from the players this afternoon and I always felt comfortable we would go on and win the game and so it proved,” Brazil was quoted as saying by the club website.
Arsenal bossed the possession stats, but Forest weren’t just sitting back and soaking up the pressure for they showed plenty of verve each time they got the ball and had it not been for the heroics of David Ospinia, could have been three or four up at half-time.
Forest defender Eric Lichaj was the unlikely hero with a first-half brace to give the hosts a 2-1 lead at the interval before a pair of second-half penalties for Brazil’s men saw them race ahead.
“It would have been foolish to play the game Arsenal wanted us to so we had to go on the front foot and get in amongst them. We didn’t want to give them space or time on the ball or allow them to dictate the game. Our first ten minutes showed our intent and we really set the tempo of the contest,” Brazil stated.
Danny Welbeck had temporarily raised hopes for the visitors he scored to make it 3-2, but a second penalty, which was dispatched in contentious circumstances by Kieran Dowell, had Forest home and dry and they hung on despite having a numerical disadvantage after Joe Worrall’s sending off late in the tie.
While all the Forest players acquitted themselves well against the mighty Gunners, it was the display of 18-year-old striker Ben Brereton that really caught the eye. The former Manchester Unite and Stoke City Academy graduate was a handful for Arsenal’s back-three and his manager was effusive in praise for the England U-19 forward.
“I think Ben Brereton is a very difficult player to play against when he’s in that mood. We know exactly what he’s capable of and everyone in the academy knows that down the middle is his best position. He’s had that chance courtesy of Daryl’s (Murphy) injury and he’s taken that opportunity,” Brazil gushed.
Arsenal were adamant that the second penalty was a double-kick but Brazil brushed aside any suggestions of illegality as he stated “I thought the referee got the decisions spot on this afternoon. Kieran’s penalty was a well-taken spot-kick and it made it 4-2. Now we move on to the fourth round and we’ll see who we get”.