In dire need of a win, Nottingham Forest hosted Aston Villa on Sunday – having not won a game since they visited Chelsea at the start of September. Aston Villa, however, haven’t lost since that same September weekend. Another win for Villa would take them into the top four and extend their unbeaten Premier League streak to a respectable seven games.
NFO: Vlachodimos; Aina, Niakhaté, Murillo, Toffolo; Sangaré, Mangala, Domínguez; Gibbs-White, Awoniyi, Elanga
AVL: Martínez; Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne; McGinn, Kamara, Luiz, Zaniolo; Diaby, Watkins
Nottingham Forest made a clear effort to play positive football from the get-go, unfazed by their opponent’s run of form. They controlled the game for the first few minutes, creating an opportunity early on; but Domínguez’s eventual shot went way wide.
Only minutes later, Elanga found the ball on the left wing and carried the ball far as the Aston Villa area. He then passed the ball back to Toffolo who found Ole Aina, sidefooting the ball into the bottom left corner from 25 yards out, giving the home side a surprising lead inside five minutes.Embed from Getty Images
Now trailing, the visitors made more of an effort to control the game and held the ball comfortably. However they were unable to convert their possession into real chances, and Forest remained dangerous on the counter, at times threatening to double their lead.
Aston Villa’s most promising attack of the first half came at around the 35 minute mark when they launched a quick counterattack, but a disappointing cross made Vlachodimos’ life easy in goal. Forest responded quickly with a counterattack of their own after a string of defensive corners; Aina impressively found Domínguez, but for a second time, the Argentinian couldn’t convert the opportunity. Just before the break, both teams had penalty shouts checked by VAR but both were waved off, maintaining Forest’s deserved lead going into halftime.
Nottingham Forest immediately doubled their lead at the start of the second half. A long shot from Mangala went straight towards Martínez and initially it looked like it had been saved, but a single hand wasn’t enough to keep the ball out and it crossed the line, with only the keeper to blame.
The rest of the game saw the visitors control the game in terms of possession and opportunity, but they just couldn’t find a goal despite their efforts as Forest remained organised and solid at the back. The ball rarely left the home side’s half in the final ten minutes as Villa dominated but their defensive resilience paid off and they managed to see the game out, giving Forest just their third win of the season.
Nottingham Forest take on midtable West Ham in their next Premier League clash, meanwhile Aston Villa host AZ midweek in the Conference League before facing Fulham next Sunday.