Nottingham Forest boss Cooper: We targeted Van Dijk with Awoniyi

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper felt Taiwo Awoniyi could unsettle Virgil van Dijk for Saturday’s shock win.

The 25-year-old former Liverpool striker – who never played for the Reds because of work permit issues – netted the only goal of the game at the City Ground, stabbing home a rebound from his own shot 10 minutes into the second half. An instinctive finish rounded off an outstanding performance from the Nigerian, who hassled and harried van Dijk and Joe Gomez from minute one.

“‘T’ worked so hard. We played him today as we thought he could be a handful for Virgil van Dijk. He really proved to be that and deserved his goal,” said Cooper. “If he didn’t celebrate, I’ll support whatever a player decides to do. Liverpool had loads of the ball and territory, we had some good chances as well.

“Obviously it feels great, there are a few things about the win which are really important; one, we really needed a win because we’ve been on a poor run.

“It is a very important win for the club and the city, there is a nice history about the fixture and definitely a game fans looked forward and I know for us to win the game is important for many generations.

“And going forward it is a good reference point for us to show we can compete at this level and create chances.”

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