Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted his side were no-one’s “dream draw” as he faced up to the prospect of taking on title rivals Manchester City twice in seven days in a league and FA Cup double.
Diogo Jota’s 78th-minute goal secured a first win at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground in 13 visits – succeeding where Arsenal and Leicester had failed this season – to book a Wembley date with City on April 16.
They face Pep Guardiola’s team at the Etihad Stadium the previous Sunday in a match which could be crucial in the race for the Premier League title.
With the quadruple still on for Liverpool, Klopp says they do not fear anyone but admits they cannot afford to fixate on City as there are other matches, particularly the Champions League quarter-finals, which are equally important.
“We have Watford, Benfica, City, Benfica, City, United, Everton,” said the Reds boss.
“From a Liverpool perspective these are all massive games and we try to play them one at a time and not all together.
“We knew before the game City would be the opponent if we wanted to go to the final anyway. Now here we go.
“The further you go in whichever competition, the more likely you are you will face City at one point.
“I don’t think we are the dream draw for anyone, but it will be a tough tie and we have to make sure it will be tough for City as well.
“But there are a lot of games to play before that.”
Getting past Forest, in the first meeting between the two clubs in 23 years, proved difficult enough.
Had Philip Zinckernagel not missed a one-on-one with goalkeeper Alisson Becker a couple of minutes before Jota struck the outcome could have been different.
“It was the game we expected, especially if you don’t use your chances,” added 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.
“All respect to Steve [Cooper] and Nottingham Forest, a top, top performance, really professional, really well organised.
“It was a brilliant atmosphere. Everything was prepared to give us a knock as well but because we were prepared for a fight we came through.”
Cooper accepted that when you do not take a chance like Zinckernagel’s against a team like Liverpool you are always likely to pay for it.
He also felt, however, the visitors were possibly fortunate with VAR decisions as Jota was ruled onside for his goal, while Alisson’s challenge on Ryan Yates was not deemed worthy of a late penalty.
“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 the former Liverpool academy coach.
“It’s the first time we’ve experienced [VAR] here and you have to trust the process of what it is.
“I haven’t seen them back, but I think they would have been interesting had they been at the other end.
“Yatesy is one of the most honest of players, too honest, so the feeling was there was no way he would go down – plus could he go on and score?
“I’m not going to talk about VAR, or what could have been in the game. On the whole I thought we handled them pretty well and couldn’t make the most of the moments we created.”