Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest welcomed Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace to the city ground this afternoon for a Premier League matchup.
Forest, riding high off of their EFL Cup victory over Tottenham on Wednesday, were eager to continue their strong home form against Palace, who lost out on penalties to Newcastle United in the same round of the Cup.
Fans were treated to an energetic game, as both Forest and Palace came out looking sharp and eager to take the lead.
Vieira’s men enjoyed the Lion’s share of possession during the first half, with nearly 70% throughout the first 45 minutes. Despite this, it was clear to anyone watching that this was a well-matched contest, as Forest looked equally as dangerous as their guests with what little possession they did claim.
The only element lacking from both teams during the first 45 was the end product. Both Forest and Palace regularly drove the ball up the pitch in back-and-forth exchanges, but none could get a shot on target.
This remains to be the case even after a penalty is given to Palace’s Zaha, after being brought down by Joe Worrall. Zaha steps up to Dean Henderson to take the penalty and drags it wide of the left post to deny his team the chance to go ahead into the break.
The theme of the first half seemed to be that Palace held more of the ball, with Forest’s energy and quality use of their possession leveling the match.
Steve Cooper’s men come out after the break looking just as energised as they were in the first half. They looked the more dangerous side during the opening minutes of the half, creating several chances including an attempted bicycle kick finish from Serge Aurier!
Forest continue to enjoy more chances throughout the opening minutes of the second half, and it takes just 9 minutes for them to get what they were hunting for.
A Forest attack sees Brennan Johnson on the ball in the far corner of Palace’s box. He does some great work to maneuver his way around two oncoming defenders and flick a curling cross into the box.
Morgan Gibbs-White is able to cooly control the ball with his chest, get it out from under his feet and strike it past Vicente Guaita.
The goal is originally flagged as OFFSIDE.
VAR is called upon to adjudicate the incredibly close decision. Fans around the stadium hold their breath.
The goal is given to thunderous applause and cheers from the City Ground, which has provided an electric atmosphere for both home and visiting fans for the first 54 minutes of this matchup.
The goal seemingly provides even more energy to Forest’s electric performance as they continue their fantastic home record for this season.
Patrick Vieira prepares Jean-Phillipe Mateta & Jel Ward to replace Jordan Ayew & Tyrick Mitchell as he looks to shake things up for Palace.
The theme of the second half matches that of the first – Palace continue to enjoy the majority of the ball, but Forest are the team making the most of their time with it.
Later on in the second half, Palace visibly pushed harder to try and get themselves back in the game. They were met with an ever-ready Nottingham squad, who impressed their home fans with strong defensive & counter-attacking displays throughout the match.
Strong challenges were also a common feature throughout this matchup, and by the time the final whistle blew 4 players from Palace (Mitchell, Ward, Guehi & Schlupp) as well as 1 Forest man (Ryan Yates) found themselves in the referee’s book.
Forest used attack as their best form of defense as the game moved into its final 20 minutes. Jesse Lingard was unfortunate to not convert from several fantastic chances that came as a result of Forest deploying energetic counter-attacks against a now-waining Crystal Palace.
Vieira continued to bring in fresh legs to try and make something happen in this game, but Forest’s seemingly limitless energy & commitment this afternoon denied them that chance, despite a fierce attempt from Palace to find the equalizer.
The game ends 1-0 after lengthy additional stoppage time, and Steve Cooper’s men can give themselves a pat on the back for one of the best performances that they have provided him and the fans this season.
WATCH the match highlights below!