Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka praised his sides efforts as they put in a dogged display, but reaped no reward, as the Reds were defeated 2-0 away at Premier League high flyers Chelsea this afternoon.
Forest were looking to knock out the current holders in the 3rd round for the second successive year and they managed to get to half time with the score at 0-0 thanks to a Luke Steele save from a Cesc Fabregas penalty.
Four minutes into the second half however, Forest’s sheet was dirtied as Alvaro Morata stroked home the opener and the Spaniard then headed home a second to seal the victory for Maurizio Sarri’s men.
Speaking after the match, Karanka was magnanimous in defeat and admitted Chelsea were just too good despite his sides hard work.
“This is the type of game where I can’t complain or say anything to my players as they never gave up,” said Karanka.
“I know we’ve lost but we’ve lost against a very good Chelsea side and showed we’re very committed on the pitch.
“Even in the last minutes when we were losing 2-0, the players on the pitch were trying to press them high. When we had the ball, we tried to play but Chelsea is a very good side.
“Today we had to try and show that we can compete at this level. Sometimes we could, and sometimes we couldn’t because Chelsea are one of the best teams in the league.
Karanka’s job has been under pressure over recent weeks but nobody can say that his players aren’t working hard for him. Talking to the press after the defeat, Karanka claimed the work rate of his team against Chelsea was even more impressive given their recent, gruelling schedule.
“Today has been the fifth game in two weeks and most of the players have played all of those games. We finished the game against Leeds really tired and today we had another one against Chelsea but again the players were always trying to do it until the end.”
With Karanka’s squad so stretched recently due to the injuries, many would not have blamed the former Real Madrid assistant for rotating his team heavily. However, he instead fielded a very strong Forest eleven and claimed he had no choice but to approach the game in the proper manner.
“I tried to put out the best eleven because I wanted to respect this trophy,” claimed the 45 year old.
“Knowing that we had to come to a place like Stamford Bridge, I had to pick the best because if you don’t approach these games in the right way, you can lose four, five or six nil and that’s not good enough for anybody.”