LONDON: Nottingham Forest stunned Aston Villa with their first Premier League win in seven games on Sunday as Ola Aina and Orel Mangala struck in a deserved 2-0 win.
The sides came into the match in very different form as Villa’s six-game unbeaten league run had taken Unai Emery’s men to fifth in the table.
However, Villa made a terrible start when Aina found the bottom corner from outside the box after five minutes and the visitors never recovered.
Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez picked up the prize for the world’s best goalkeeper at the Ballon d’Or ceremony earlier this week for his heroics in helping Argentina to World Cup glory last year.
But his Martinez error gifted Forest their second goal early in the second half.
Martinez got a hand to Mangala’s strike from long range but did not do enough to divert the ball to safety as it looped back into his goal.
A much-needed victory for Forest eases speculation that Steve Cooper was at risk of becoming the first Premier League manager of the season to be sacked.
“It’s a really good win. We knew we were coming up against an in-form team with really good players,“ said Cooper.
“I’ve got a lot of gratitude for the players for sticking to the plan and committing to it”
Forest climb to 12th in the table, eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Villa missed the chance to climb into the top four as they remained fifth.
“We took this match as a challenge to get the top four teams, we didn’t achieve it and there is still work to do to try and correct the things we did today with some mistakes,“ said Emery.
Liverpool can go second later on Sunday should the Reds win at Luton.
Luis Diaz was included among the Liverpool substitutes despite the ongoing search for his father, who has been kidnapped by a guerilla group in his native Colombia.
“It is still pretty emotional but Luis decided three days ago that he wants to try training again,“ said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
“I have said before, the training ground, the football pitch is the safe place for the boys. There he can behave normal and for a few minutes at least forget what is going on.” – AFP