Blackburn 1-4 Nottingham Forest: Johnson bags a brace
Nottingham Forest reached the Carabao Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1994 with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Blackburn at Ewood Park.
Wales international Brennan Johnson scored twice on his return to action after the World Cup, while Jesse Lingard and Taiwo Awoniyi were also on target.
Johnson fired the visitors in front when he neatly dispatched a penalty in the opening minutes after being brought down inside the box by Scott Wharton, and the Premier League outfit could have had a few more but for Rovers goalkeeper Aynsley Pears making five first-half saves.
Wharton made up for conceding the early penalty with a header to bring Blackburn level at the break.
Lingard put the away side back in front with a deflected free-kick and the visitors wrapped things up with two goals in the final 10 minutes to send Forest through to the last eight.
The Reds looked the brighter of the two sides on their return to competitive action for the first time since November 12 and Johnson had the first chance of the game five minutes in when he was set free with acres of space down the right but drilled his effort straight at Pears.
The Blackburn keeper was forced into a second save two minutes later when Awoniyi tapped a close-range effort straight at him as Johnson proved to be the livewire in the first few minutes.
The visitors were awarded a spot-kick 13 minutes into the encounter as Johnson proved too quick for Wharton’s late challenge. He picked himself up and sent Pears the wrong way to put Forest 1-0 up.
Forward came the visitors again but they found Pears in fine form, as he kept out further efforts from Orel Mangala and Neco Williams.
Rovers made Forest pay for their missed chances and had an unlikely equaliser one minute before the break as Adam Wharton’s inswinging free-kick was glanced home by brother Scott to level matters.
Lingard restored the visitors’ advantage eight minutes after the break when he was brought down by Scott Wharton and his low free-kick found the net courtesy of a couple of deflections which wrong footed Pears.
The Reds were keen to put the game to bed but an inspired Pears was at the ready to keep out further efforts from Lingard, Awoniyi and Joe Worrall before he scrambled across his goal to claw Johnson’s header from crossing the line.
Forest finally put the tie to bed with just over 10 minutes remaining when Lingard slipped through Awoniyi to coolly finish and Johnson’s drilled effort with the last kick of the game made it four to dump the Championship side out of the competition.