Nottingham Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo said his side’s night of toil in their FA Cup replay against Bristol City was worth it after they booked a fifth-round tie with Manchester United.
Forest needed a penalty shootout to get past the Championship outfit after it ended 1-1 after 120 minutes at the City Ground.
Goalkeeper Matt Turner was the hero as he saved Sam Bell’s effort in the shootout after Divock Origi’s first goal for Forest had been cancelled out by Jason Knight’s leveller.
“We are so happy it was tough but it was worth it,” the Portuguese said. “We had players struggling, extra time, let’s assess them now and see how they are.
“With players that have been out for so long it is tough, but it was the best possible way to manage the situation we are in now, trying to protect players that are returning, we have to measure the minutes they are on the pitch.
“The response was good. It was tough, but the attitude and the character to never give up makes me very, very happy.
“This is the FA Cup, it is so special and that is why we are so happy and proud to keep continuing and fighting for something that is so huge for us, to fight for a trophy, with the history of the club we have to keep on fighting and try to deliver.”
Manchester United visit the City Ground in three weeks for the fifth-round tie.
“It is going to be fantastic and huge for us but before that we have a lot of things to prepare. We have a tough one on Saturday (against Newcastle),” Nuno added.
Bristol City boss Liam Manning was proud of his side’s effort and praised Bell, despite his decisive penalty miss in the shootout.
Manning said: “He is understandably gutted, the lads have been great and got around him.
“As tough as an experience it is right now, it is only going to be one that makes him tougher and stronger. I said to him that’s the best he has been since I have been here, I thought his performance level was excellent.
“We wouldn’t have got to penalties if it wasn’t for him making that recovery run and tackle at the back post.
“He has got an exciting future ahead of him, he’s got talent, it’s now how we turn that into consistent performances.
“There was huge pride in the performance level, in the last 15 minutes of extra time we were pushing and the better side and created so many chances.”