Manager Martin O’Neill admitted Nottingham Forest were often second best in their 2-1 win over Swansea at the City Ground – but insists he “never gave up hope”.
The Reds breathed fresh life into their Championship play-off hopes as they twice scored from corners to come back from behind against Graham Potter’s side.
A previously cagey, uninspiring battle sparked into life in the final 15 minutes or so.
The Swans seemed to have taken charge when a shot from George Byers took a big deflection off Connor Roberts in the 76th minute.
But Forest conjured up the perfect response as they scored twice from Joe Lolley corners, with Daryl Murphy flicking home a header in the 80th minute and Molla Wague powering home another seven minutes later.
O’Neill said: “I never give up here, because we had talked about the set pieces, which are really important – and we have people who want to attack it.
“The delivery for both goals was spot on – but you still have to score. So if you have one or two players who really want it, who really want to get on the end of things, you have a chance.
“We have lots to do when it comes to the performance. But I am delighted with the players, because they can see that they can get something out of a game where they have been second best for a lot of it.”
O’Neill praised his opposite number for the job he has done with the Welsh side.
He added: “Swansea are a very good side and they have been for some time. They have got to know each other and they have a young manager who has done exceptionally well for them.
“They got the goal with about 15 minutes left – but we showed tremendous character.
“I know these are overused words in the game but we did show great character. Everything seemed lost, but two set-pieces turned the game in our favour.
“We showed some real, real strength of character at the end. We can improve on the performance, of course. But it was great to win.”
Potter was not overly critical of his players and says they must have faith that good performances will eventually bring good results for Swansea.
He said: “There were a lot of positives, even if it is hard to keep saying that when you do not get the right result at the end of it.
“It was disappointing. It was a sore one. I thought we did such a lot right in the game for 80 minutes.
“We played well, we created opportunities and we got ourselves a goal, while restricting them. We did everything right until the final 10 minutes when we failed to defend two actions in the box.
“That is the beauty of the game but it is also clear what we need to do better.
“It is frustrating because we came here to win. But you win matches by how you play – and we played really well for 90% of the game.
“We just got heavily punished for the other part of it. We won’t be the only team that this happens to. But you have to respect that this is part of the game.”
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