Three things we learnt from Nottingham Forest v Fulham

Nottingham Forest scored three first-half goals as they defeated Fulham 3-1, in yet another famous night under the lights of the City Ground. George Edwards assesses the performance

Three changes after 33 minutes — something must be going wrong.

But it wasn’t going wrong for Nottingham Forest. Instead, the scarves were being waved above heads, the play was fluid and the belief and noise were back.

These historic and memorable nights always seem to occur under the famous City Ground lights. Think back to those crucial wins over Brighton and Southampton last season, the Manchester United win this season, or the play-off victory two years ago. This one can certainly be added to the list.

From minute one, the fight was there. You could tell something was going to happen.

A Gibbs-White masterclass

There was connection between the defence and midfield and incredible graft from Chris Wood up top, winning almost every header against two giant centre-backs. That alongside his seemingly customary goal these days, his 30-yard strike showing the confidence flowing through his veins at the moment — eight in nine for the Kiwi.

Displayed on the Trent End during a passionate and possessed Mull of Kintyre was a banner of Morgan Gibbs-White, alongside the words ‘shut out the noise and play your game’. That’s exactly what transpired.

Gibbs-White was involved in everything that was good about Forest’s first 45. The exquisite turn on halfway followed by the inch-perfect trivela ball through for Callum Hudson-Odoi on nine minutes, culminating in a confident cut inside and finish from the winger for his fifth goal of the season.

A deft flick over the head of Tosin Adarabioyo before a drive forward and yet another ball for Hudson-Odoi, delicately playing him in for a second, Bernd Leno coming out on top this time.

He was seen left, centre and right. Deep and up-field. All over the park.

Excellently timed give and gos. First with Elanga, receiving the ball and returning it to the Swede in the box, with him crashing the outside of the post. Then, roles reversed, as he played in Danilo on the edge of the box before the Brazilian unselfishly found Gibbs-White again, Forest’s number 10 grabbing their third goal on the brink of halftime, a goal he thoroughly and undoubtedly merited.

Defensive resolve

Three up at the break, a scoreline that flattered Fulham if anything. Matz Sels did have to make an early save to deny Andreas Pereria but from then on, his main chore was starting Forest attacks.

Forest got the job done at the break. As much as that inspiring performance would have been brilliant see in the second, a considered and measured defensive display got Forest over the line without much sweat.

There were the obvious doubts that surround Nottingham Forest holding leads but, in isolation, they coasted home.

The ugly set-piece vulnerability reared its head once again, the only time Forest really looked like conceding and they did, from one of the Cottagers eight corners.

A few nervy moments transpired, but the bodies were on the line, Sels was in the way and the siege mentality had returned. It was a performance that should have been on display on Saturday against Palace and, if on display for the rest of the season, will be enough to comfortably keep the Reds in the Premier League.

Team selection

Kudos must also be given to the manager, too. Many, myself perhaps more than most, have been critical of recent selections, but last night was spot on.

The pace and mobility of Andrew Omobamidele complimented Murillo perfectly and the midfield partnership of Ryan Yates and Danilo worked wonders. Yates did what he does and did it so well, retaining and regaining possession alongside galvanising his troops. Danilo had the ability to drive Forest forward while having good defensive positioning, and Forest haven’t won a game under Nuno that the Brazilian hasn’t started.

Another famous City Ground win and only their second Premier League triumph of 2024. With the confidence and momentum that could and should follow from this game, Forest must be sure they have enough to beat the drop, sitting three points above the dotted line before Luton kick-off tonight.

That was special. Bring on the final seven.

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