Lopetegui | On dropping out of the cup, squad fitness and Hodge's character

Julen Lopetegui has praised the character his players showed to fight back in their Carabao Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest, despite falling out of the competition on penalties.

After Raul Jimenez had cancelled out Willy Boly’s opener, the head coach believed Wolves should have had a late penalty for a foul on Matheus Nunes, but once it wasn’t given and the game ended all even after 90 minutes, it meant penalties were to decide the tie.

Joe Hodge missed the deciding spot kick for Wolves, but Lopetegui was quick to highlight the commitment of the young midfielder, and feels the Irishman will learn and grow from this moment.

On falling out of the cup on penalties

“My reaction is of course negative because we wanted to continue in this competition and I think we fought a lot to get it. It was a very hard match for both teams.

“We started to suffer one goal from the corner, I don’t remember another chance for them, and then after we had two very big chances in the first-half that we don’t score. In the second-half, we have tried to score, we got one goal, but we had more chances.

“We changed things because they crossed a lot, but we scored a very good goal. After that, we had two or three very good situations. But in the end, it was a pity for the penalties, because this is the way we have lost this match.”

On appeals for a penalty on Nunes

“We have to accept that, but I don’t want to forget one key and very unfair action against us. It was a very clear penalty for Matheus Nunes. I have seen it and it’s very clear.

“He wants to control the ball and the defender doesn’t allow him to control it. He steps on his foot. It was very clear. But maybe I don’t understand nothing about of the rules of football.

“I have suffered this at Anfield and again today we suffered a lot again. I have to accept it and maybe I need to review all the rules of football. The rules in England are no different to the rules in Spain, France and Germany. It’s all the same.”

On the character of his players

“I want to highlight the fight of the players again, because we have played three matches away from Wolverhampton and we haven’t lost, but we haven’t won. We need to win, above all today because it was a key match to continue ahead and we have a big vision to ahead.

“We have fought a lot and it’s a pity for our fans because they are here and offering a big support for us, so it was a pity for all of us, but above all, for them.

“To continue, we have to improve some things. It’s going to be a very hard and long race, and after today we have another very important match in front of us, and we have to put the focus tomorrow on the next match.”

On looking after the fitness of his squad

“We tried to do it, because we have in front of us a very hard match against West Ham and in the same way, a very important match.

“We have to recover as quickly as possible because it’s been a very hard fight and of course, the energy is different if you’ve won. But we need to change our mentality very fast to put the focus on the next match.”

On Hodge stepping up for a crucial penalty

“I want to highlight his commitment and character. But this is done and the players that doesn’t score the penalties are never at fault, but he wanted to take a penalty and show his character and this is all. He’s going to grow and improve from this, for sure.”