Aitor Karanka says he knew Nottingham Forest would have to match Burton Albion's intensity if they were to leave the Pirelli Stadium with a positive result.

That aim was made all the more obvious following Eric Lichaj's 28th-minute red card for a poor tackle on Martin Samuelsen from behind, with Forest pinned back for the rest of the match. having to deal with an Albion onslaught.

The Spaniard was not to be drawn into a discussion about the American's sending off, instead being keen to praise his side's effort after going a man down.

And Karanka was pleased with the fight his side showed to arrest a recent slide that had seen them lose their last four matches.

"I don't think it was a sending off, but after the game today it is not a day to complain," he said.

"It's a day to be proud of the team, especially after our last performances at home.

Nigel Clough says 'it's two points dropped' as Burton Albion can't finish off 10-man Nottingham Forest

"We knew that we were coming to play against the bottom team, but I told them before the game that they are going to fight like they were top of the league.

"We had to fight with the same intensity, and we did it even with 10 men.

"We couldn't play because of 10 men and their intensity with their power.

"It was difficult, but from the last performance to today, I feel really proud and there's a very good improvement in the squad."

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Karanka also found time to praise Nigel Clough's side for their performance, and admits he knew his side would have to be at their best to compete with the Brewers.

During his time at previous club Middlesbrough, they were taken to extra-time in the first-round of the EFL Cup at the Pirelli Stadium in 2016 before eventually getting through.

He says that experience helped him prepare for what he knew was going to be a tough task.

"I remember when I came here two or three years ago before Burton were even in the Championship, we knew that they are a team that plays with everything," he added.

"So if I were the coach I would be really proud of them, because every single game they fight for every single ball.

"And obviously when you have more quality, it's easier to play, but when you have players like them, and the way that they played, if I were Nigel I would be very proud of them."