Liverpool will play Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley after edging past Nottingham Forest in a pulsating encounter at the City Ground.
Diogo Jota scored the only goal of the game for the visitors, prodding in Konstantinos Tsimikas’ cross from the left with 12 minutes remaining.
Jurgen Klopp’s quadruple-chasing side dominated possession but were made to work for their victory by their relentless Championship opponents.
Steve Cooper’s side saw a late penalty appeal turned down by VAR when midfielder Ryan Yates fell after a challenge with Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson.
The hosts also regarded Philip Zinckernagel’s miss as decisive to the outcome, the Danish winger side-footing wide from six yards from Brennan Johnson’s inviting cross just a couple of minutes before Jota’s goal.
“I think the game was decided on a defining two minutes – we had a good chance that we didn’t take and they created one and did,” said Cooper.
While Forest had already beaten both Arsenal and Leicester in this season’s competition, they found themselves taking a significant step up in class against Liverpool despite Klopp making seven changes to his starting XI.
And while they were galvanised by the electric atmosphere in what was the first meeting between the clubs in the FA Cup since the rescheduled 1989 semi-final that followed the Hillsborough disaster, they spent long periods of the game under severe pressure.
Yates also had a chance to head a late equaliser, but Liverpool, who also carved open several excellent opportunities of their own, deservedly advanced to the last four.
Nottingham Forest left 97 seats vacant for game with Liverpool to honour those who lost their lives because of the Hillsborough disaster.Relive Sunday’s FA Cup actionFootball Daily podcast: Liverpool pass quarter-final test to continue quadruple quest Polished Liverpool maintain momentumWhile Forest made an encouraging start despite the absence of three first-choice defenders, Liverpool’s Premier League pedigree quickly became evident.
The visitors’ slick movement repeatedly caused problems as did the hosts’ own attempts to play out from the back.
And had Roberto Firmino not fluffed a golden chance to open the scoring, Klopp’s side would have headed into the interval with a deserved advantage and possibly having laid the platform for a more convincing performance.
Instead the Brazilian’s attempted dink was well saved by Forest goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, who bailed out his team after Jack Colback’s glaring mistake.
“It was the game we expected, especially if you don’t use your chances,” said Klopp.
“We could have played better, but we should have scored in the first half. If we scored earlier it would be a completely different game. Everything was prepared to give us a knock as well but because we were prepared for a fight we came through.”
Reinforcements were summoned just after the hour mark with Jordan Henderson, Thiago, Takumi Minamino and Luis Diaz all introduced to try and turn the contest in Liverpool’s favour.
But having survived a scare at one end of the pitch it was Jota who made the difference with his 19th goal of the campaign – his best ever return in front of goal in a single season.
And it ensured that Liverpool reached the semi-final of the competition for the first time under Klopp and maintained their superb domestic form which has seen them win 13 consecutive games plus the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea after a penalty shootout.
Forest turn focus to promotionForest were bottom of the Championship when Cooper took charge in September and the former England Under-17s boss has since overseen a significant upturn in fortunes.
This was only Forest’s second defeat since the turn of the year and, while they will take heart from pushing one of Europe’s elite clubs so close, they can now focus all of their attention on trying to join Liverpool in the Premier League next term.
Forest are three points off the Championship play-off positions with games in hand on all the sides around them in the table.
And if the likes of Joe Worrall, Joe Garner and Keinan Davis continue to perform in the same vein as they did here, they appear to have the spine of a team capable of reaching the top flight for the first time since 1999.
Player of the match
with an average of 7.36
Nottingham ForestSquad number4Player nameWorrall
Squad number37Player nameGarner
Squad number20Player nameJohnson
Squad number22Player nameYates
Squad number9Player nameDavis
Squad number2Player nameSpence
Squad number23Player nameLolley
Squad number18Player nameCafú
Squad number1Player nameHorvath
Squad number3Player nameTobias Figueiredo
Squad number11Player nameZinckernagel
Squad number16Player nameSurridge
Squad number8Player nameColback
Squad number17Player nameMighten
Squad number19Player nameXande Silva
LiverpoolSquad number4Player namevan Dijk
Squad number1Player nameAlisson
Squad number20Player nameDiogo Jota
Squad number21Player nameTsimikas
Squad number5Player nameKonaté
Squad number12Player nameGomez
Squad number3Player nameFabinho
Squad number6Player nameThiago Alcántara
Squad number9Player nameRoberto Firmino
Squad number23Player nameDíaz
Squad number14Player nameHenderson
Squad number18Player nameMinamino
Squad number8Player nameKeïta
Squad number15Player nameOxlade-Chamberlain
Squad number67Player nameElliott
Line-upsNottm ForestFormation 4-2-3-1
1Horvath2Spence4Worrall3Figueiredo8ColbackSubstituted forCosta Silvaat 90+1’minutes22Yates37Garner23LolleySubstituted forRibeiro Diasat 65’minutes11ZinckernagelSubstituted forMightenat 78’minutes20Johnson9DavisSubstituted forSurridgeat 77’minutesSubstitutes6Mbe Soh13Bong14Laryea16Surridge17Mighten18Ribeiro Dias19Costa Silva21Ojeda30SambaLiverpoolFormation 4-3-3
1Alisson12GomezBooked at 60mins5Konaté4van Dijk21Tsimikas8KeïtaSubstituted forHendersonat 64’minutes3FabinhoSubstituted forThiago Alcántaraat 64’minutes15Oxlade-ChamberlainSubstituted forDíazat 64’minutes67ElliottSubstituted forMinaminoat 64’minutes9Firmino20JotaSubstitutes6Thiago Alcántara13Adrián14Henderson17Jones18Minamino23Díaz27Origi32Matip63BeckReferee:Craig Pawson
Live TextMatch ends, Nottingham Forest 0, Liverpool 1.
Second Half ends, Nottingham Forest 0, Liverpool 1.
Attempt missed. Diogo Jota (Liverpool) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Takumi Minamino.
Offside, Liverpool. Jordan Henderson tries a through ball, but Roberto Firmino is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Cafú (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Tobias Figueiredo with a through ball.
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Xande Silva replaces Jack Colback.
Attempt saved. Ryan Yates (Nottingham Forest) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Brennan Johnson with a cross.
Foul by Ibrahima Konaté (Liverpool).
Sam Surridge (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Konstantinos Tsimikas (Liverpool).
Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Tobias Figueiredo.
Goal! Nottingham Forest 0, Liverpool 1. Diogo Jota (Liverpool) right footed shot from very close range to the top right corner. Assisted by Konstantinos Tsimikas with a cross.
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Alex Mighten replaces Philip Zinckernagel.
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Sam Surridge replaces Keinan Davis.
Attempt missed. Philip Zinckernagel (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Brennan Johnson with a cross following a fast break.
Attempt blocked. Takumi Minamino (Liverpool) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Keinan Davis (Nottingham Forest).
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Cafú replaces Joe Lolley.