Nottingham Forest were left to rue not capitalizing on a positive second half after a 2-0 loss to Manchester City, leaving head coach Steve Cooper with mixed feelings.

Such possibilities, according to the Welshman, do not come along very often at the Etihad Stadium. And there was a sense of disappointment that the Reds were unable to break through against the Premier League champions.

Forest had their job cut out for them after falling behind two goals within a quarter of an hour, with Phil Foden and Erling Haaland beating Matt Turner. They did, though, have a stronger spell shortly before the break and then resumed where they left off after the break.

Rodri was sent off for an off-the-ball confrontation with Morgan Gibbs-White early in the second half, reducing City to ten men. Cooper’s team did put their opponents on the defensive after that, but they were unable to capitalize on some positive moments.

Ola Aina of Nottingham Forest and Jeremy Doku of Manchester City battle for the ball
“Without stating the obvious, it was a really poor start, in terms of the goals we conceded,” Cooper remarked. “We know how difficult it is to prepare for and play a game against City here at the Etihad – it doesn’t get any tougher.”

“However, when it comes to the City goals, they were of high quality, but they were very typical Man City goals in terms of the type and pass and run from (Kyle) Walker for the first one and the pull to the back post for Haaland for the second.” That was something we had planned for. We understood it was a recurring approach, in addition to all the other fantastic things they can do in a game.

“However, allowing it to happen as easily as we did was disappointing.” I wanted it to be difficult if they were going to do it and score. That, however, was not the case.

“The game could then go in one of two directions.” We might retreat into our shells or we could rise up and be counted.

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