Nottingham Forest’s Hudson-Odoi and Gibbs-White give Fulham both barrels

Estimated read time 4 min read

Nottingham Forest’s best opening 45 minutes of the season proved sufficient for Nuno Espírito Santo’s team to climb three points clear of the relegation zone as Morgan Gibbs-White, making one goal and scoring another, gave them a winning platform.

In between, Chris Wood struck for a third successive game to resuscitate a season that appeared in danger of spiralling out of Forest’s control after the four-point penalty for falling foul of the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules.

Forest may be appealing against that ruling but their best bet is to keep performing like this. They blew Fulham out of the water in that opening period, meaning Tosin Adarabioyo’s goal early in the second half provided tension but no detriment.

Nuno praised the energy that was transmitted between the crowd and the players as the City Ground regained the intensity that has so often provided the difference in this era. “It was so important,” the ­Forest manager said. “You felt it. It was huge. This appeal that we’ve been making, we’ve been [asking] of the fans, making the noise, bringing noise, it helps so much the players. But tonight it work both ways.”

Nuno warned however that Forest are far from safe as his team prepare to go to Tottenham on Sunday. “We must not get that over the moon,” he said. “There’s still a long way to go.”

The home team could not have asked for a better start. Two goals to the good within 20 minutes, they embarrassed Fulham into making three substitutions.

Callum Hudson-Odoi initiated this blitz. Gibbs-White was instrumental, with his 10th goal involvement of the season. He turned Palhinha inside out in the centre-circle before sending Hudson-Odoi away with a perfectly paced through ball. The former Chelsea winger used his speed before cutting back inside Kenny Tete to drill in a fourth goal in his last nine league games.

Hudson-Odoi should have made it two, allowing Bernd Leno to save after being put in by Gibbs-White, before Chris Wood did so. Receiving Murillo’s ball to feet, the centre-­forward turned with ease before shooting early from 25 yards beyond an unsighted Leno.

After Anthony Elanga rushed in to receive Gibbs-White’s return pass and shoot against the far post, Marco Silva decided he had seen enough. He withdrew Harry Wilson, Alex Iwobi and Sasa Lukic, sending on Adama Traoré, Willian and Tom Cairney.

Nottingham Forest’s substitute goalkeeper Matt Turner is booked by Michael OliverView image in fullscreen

“When I made the triple change our first half and result at that point was not the fault of those three,” the Fulham manager said. “The team needed much more changes than three. As a collective we were not there. We were losing almost all the balls. On the ball and off the ball we were not aggressive enough.”

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Only Sheffield United have fewer than Fulham’s two away wins and, despite the European places being within sight, the beach looked a preferred destination for the visitors’ players. They had a spell of possession but, in the last seconds of first-half stoppage time, Gibbs-White made it 3-0.

Danilo, reintroduced into the midfield engine room, surged at the back line before slipping the ball left to Gibbs-White, who took a composed touch before slotting home.

Fulham, however, came back out with a gusto that might served a ­purpose at the first kick-off. Within four minutes, it was 3-1. Andreas Pereira’s corner was met by Adarabioyo, who headed beyond Matz Sels. Suddenly, notwithstanding the two-goal buffer, it was game on. With the rain pouring down, the tension was back. Matt Turner, Forest’s substitute goalkeeper, was cautioned for delaying a restart; once Michael Oliver’s back was turned, he waved his arms to wind up the crowd even more.

The intensity was returning with a vengeance, the second half a series of traded attacks. When Neco Williams came back inside on to his left foot, he was unlucky to see his shot deflect off Cairney on to the bar; from the rebound, Danilo’s firecracker ­ricocheted off Wood.

At the other end, Adarabioyo had one header tipped aside superbly by Sels, and another rebound off the underside of the bar. Thankfully for a relieved City Ground, Forest hung on.


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