‘Champions of Europe, you’ll never sing that,’ chanted Forest fans after Leicester was knocked out of the FA Cup.
‘You’re getting fired in the morning,’ for example, could be getting a workout with a slew of similar outcomes. Brendan Rodgers could be dispensed with if Leicester’s board did away with the guy who produced the biggest title win in club history.
But more on the GOAT later. First and foremost, Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest put on an outstanding performance, fully deserving of their eye-catching victory and the reward of a very winnable home draw against Huddersfield Town in the next round.
They will fancy their chances against another Championship club after disposing of Arsenal and Leicester, the last two FA Cup champions. And rightfully so. Cooper has constructed a young, energetic team that Leicester couldn’t handle.
Forest had a 3-0 lead after 32 minutes and went on to win the game just after the hour mark. Leicester’s only response came late in the first half, when a goalie error resulted in a fortuitous goal. They couldn’t match Forest’s vivacity. Djed Spence, on loan from Middlesbrough, and Brennan Johnson were both superb.
The only blemish came with the latest hooligan incident, in which a Leicester supporter ran on and threw blows at Nottingham Forest’s players as they celebrated their third goal.
There was no major injury but that’s beside the point. It occurs far too frequently, and the police and courts must intervene.
Leicester got off to a strong start, with Kelechi Iheanacho and Ademola Lookman both going close, with Lookman just failing to get on the end of a Harvey Barnes cross at the far post. But Forest fought back with an effort from Kein Davis that hit the crossbar after 20 minutes.
What happened next was difficult to convey. Leicester surrendered after being threatened. They’ve struggled defensively this season, and it’s simple to see why after seeing this. They were a complete disaster.
Leicester should not have crumbled so dramatically, despite Forest’s brilliance. Spence’s outstanding work down the right wing resulted in the first goal. He sent the ball to Johnson, who delivered a beautiful deep cross to Davis at the far post. He was all over his man Daniel Amartey, but not in a sinister way, and headed the ball back across goal as a striker should.
Philip Zinckernagel sounds like he should be competing in Beijing this month, and he scuffed the loose ball off a shin and into the net as if coming from a luge chute, faster than others around him. The City Ground exploded in a conflagration. These is a good old club with a proud history, which is evident on occasions like this.
When Forest scored again, the commotion had not diminished. Goals one and two were separated by only 24 seconds, and once again, Amartey was to blame. He played a wide back pass that was intercepted by goalkeeper Danny Ward, who was also late to detect the danger.
Brennan wasn’t, and he weighed up the percentages and slid the ball through Ward’s legs into the net, cool as a cucumber. Forest fans who were still rejoicing over the first had to dig deep into their lungs once again. They rose to the occasion admirably.
Leicester was again on the back foot, and the third goal, which came eight minutes later, further added to their woes. Leicester’s total failure to deal with an excellent corner from the right allowed skipper Joe Worrall to burrow in with a diving header that pitched up and over flailing arms and legs protecting the goal.
Then, as Forest deservedly rejoiced, a hooligan charged from Leicester’s end and began throwing wild punches, appearing to connect with Davis before being dragged to the ground by stewards. Perhaps they should have let Davis’ teammates deal with him before escorting him away, hoping he would never be seen at a football stadium again.
Forest goalkeeper Samba’s odd decision to run from his goal to clear an aimless long ball gave Leicester a lifeline they did not deserve. Spence snatched it back in the 61st minute.
He started on the right side of the field, laid the ball inside to Zinckernagel, returned the ball, and shot low past Ward. As their team had a stretch of possession, the home supporters began yelling Ole. You can’t help but pick up some of the terminologies after spending so much time in Europe.