Aitor Karanka felt Middlesbrough’s experience helped them overcome their mistakes and claim victory at Forest.
The Boro chief was disappointed to see his side concede from a set piece as Matt Mills powered home in the seventh minute to cancel out David Nugent’s third-minute opener.
But Daniel Ayala headed home to put Boro ahead for a second time, before a heroic performance from Dimi Konstantopoulos, the goalkeeper saving Henri Lansbury’s late penalty.
Karanka said: “We have made a mistake for the goal and the game was difficult. We lost here last season in a similar type of game but we have won this time because we have the quality, because we have experience; we have experienced players on the pitch and, in the end, that helped.
“It was a surprise to see us look vulnerable from set pieces because it is not like us. I can understand it at the end of the game, when you lose concentration because you are tired.
“But this was at the beginning and we had discussed, an hour before the game, Forest’s movement. We made a mistake but we have still won the game, so, hopefully, we can learn from it.”
As well as scoring the winner and becoming a father in midweek Ayala also briefed Konstantopoulos over where Lansbury would place his penalty.
“He told Dimi that Henri Lansbury would put the penalty down the middle as well as scoring the goal. It was a good day for him,” said Karanka.
Nottingham Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mills (Hobbs 18), Wilson, Pinillos, Ryan Mendes, Lansbury, Vaughan, Osborn (Ward 46), Nelson Oliveira (Williams 75), O’Grady. Unused substitutes: Blackstock, Evtimov, Christopher Burke, Grant.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Nsue, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, Leadbitter, Adomah (Fabbrini 58), Stuani (Forshaw 87), Downing, Nugent (Garcia 68). Unused substitutes: De Pena, Mejias, Kalas, Amorebieta.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).
Man of the match: Dimi Konstantopoulos.