After Arsenal’s injury-time victory over Aston Villa in the early kick-off, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side simply had to win if they were to hold on to their position at the top of the Premier League table. They were faced with a trip to the City Ground, where they’d meet a relatively in-form Nottingham Forest, who sat 14th in the standings ahead of the game.
Guardiola made two changes to his starting lineup, with Ake and Mahrez dropping to the bench as Laporte and Foden came in as direct replacements. Steve Cooper introduced five changes, as Felipe, Worrall, Danilo, Colback and Shelvey all started, with McKenna, Boly, Mangala, Scarpa and Wood making way.
NFO: Navas (GK); Lodi, Felipe, Worrall (C), Aurier; Colback, Shelvey, Freuler; Danilo, Gibbs-White; Johnson
MCI: Ederson (GK); Laporte, Dias, Walker; Silva, Rodri; Grealish, Gundogan (C), De Bruyne, Foden; Haaland
City got this game underway and started strongly, winning a handful of free-kicks in the opening minutes. Grealish had a chance to open the scoring early on after receiving the ball from Phil Foden, but Joe Worrall was able to make a good block to deny the winger. The Forest captain would go on to receive the first yellow card of the match for a late challenge on Grealish.
It was the visitors who had the best chances throughout the first half, and they’d finally take a deserved lead through Bernardo Silva in the 41st minute. After receiving the ball from Jack Grealish, the Portuguese international unleashed a thundering shot first-time from twenty yards out, leaving Keylor Navas with no chance between the sticks.
City took that one-goal lead into the break, bringing an end to the opening 45 minutes in which they’d kept the hosts pinned back into their own half. Brennan Johnson had looked extremely isolated at times up front for Forest, and Steve Cooper’s side needed to see a more fluid attacking performance if they were to recover anything from this game in the second half.
Manchester City started strongly after the interval, with Foden attempting to play in Haaland just minutes after the restart – but the Englishman lost his balance and allowed the Forest defence to track back and intercept the pass. Aymeric Laporte also had an opportunity to double City’s advantage, after connecting with De Bruyne’s corner, but the Spaniard’s header was directed straight into the arms of Navas.
Haaland could have sent his side further ahead, but his strike found the crossbar and the Norwegian striker fired the rebound over the bar. Gundogan also forced a fine save from Navas as he fired a free-kick towards the top-left corner, but the Costa Rican goalkeeper was able to keep his side in the game.
Forest equalised against the run of play in the 84th minute as Chris Wood fired home into an empty net after receiving the ball from Morgan Gibbs-White. The difference in the atmosphere at the City Ground couldn’t be understated, and Steve Cooper’s side sought to hold on to the point as the game reached its conclusion.
Celebrations rung out from the Forest faithful as the final whistle rang out, though Manchester City will feel disappointed that they weren’t able to take home all three points. The result sees the Citizens drop down to second – two points behind Arsenal, who also have a game in hand. Forest rise above their East Midlands rivals, Leicester City, taking 13th place for the time being.