Diogo Jota’s late winner earned Liverpool a 1-0 victory at a spirited Nottingham Forest on Sunday to book an FA Cup semi-final clash with Premier League title rivals Manchester City.
Second-tier Forest, who had already knocked out Premier League Arsenal and Leicester City en route to the quarter-finals, held their own in the first half, with Joe Lolley wasting a glorious chance to break the deadlock.
A much-changed Liverpool struggled to create chances in the opening period, and survived another scare early in the second when Keinan Davis almost squeezed the ball home, but away goalkeeper Alisson recovered well to smother it.
The home side continued to take the game to Liverpool, with Philip Zinckernagel missing the best Forest chance of the night moments before Jota pounced 12 minutes from time to poke home the winner, breaking hearts all around the City Ground.
It was anything but a deserved victory for Liverpool, who were restricted to mostly efforts from distance by Forest, but Jota’s clinical finish at the crucial moment made all the difference, meaning they remain in with a shot of winning four trophies this season.
“It was obviously a tough game,” Jota told ITV Sport. “They (Forest) are a great team and play with lots of intensity and they gave us a proper fight.
“They gave us a proper challenge and their fans were outstanding. But we are in the semi-finals. It (City) is another tough game. One more. There are still a lot of games before then.”
City progressed after a decisive late surge crushed Southampton 4-1 on the south coast on Sunday.
The visitors took the lead in the 12th minute when Raheem Sterling’s first-time effort took a deflection off Tino Livramento to beat goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
Southampton threatened throughout the first half and the pressure told just before halftime, when Mohamed Elyounoussi’s low cross was turned into his own net by City defender Aymeric Laporte.
The Premier League leaders went ahead again after 62 minutes when Gabriel Jesus was brought down by Mohammed Salisu and Kevin de Bruyne’s penalty crept under Forster’s outstretched arm, before substitute Phil Foden lashed home from the edge of the area 15 minutes from time and Riyad Mahrez completed the rout.
The other semi-final will be between Chelsea and Crystal Palace. The Blues negotiated a tricky encounter at Championship side Middlesbrough to win 2-0 thanks to first-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech on Saturday, while Palace thumped below-par Everton 4-0 at Selhurst Park on Sunday.