Nottingham Forest emerged from bottom of the Premier League table with a surprising 1-0 victory over Liverpool thanks to Taiwo Awoniyi’s goal early in the second half.
Amid a frenetic atmosphere at the City Ground, Steve Cooper’s team competed to claim their first victory since August, when Liverpool’s recent revival was drastically cut short. Jurgen Klopp’s hope for a first away win of the Premier League season continues.
It was a disjointed performance for all of Liverpool. Stolen from Darwin Nunez, as well as Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota, it fell to Mohamed Salah to lead, but the best chances all went to Virgil van Dijk – with Dean Henderson brilliantly defending him in injury time.
The full-time celebration scenes were extraordinary, the renewed belief that Forest can truly enjoy, rather than just endure, his return to the Premier League. Only goal difference keeps them in the relegation zone. Liverpool? They are seventh.
Nott’m Forest: Henderson (9), Aurier (9), Cook (9)
Subs: Johnson (6), Worrall (7), Renan Lodi (6), Mangala (6).
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Milner (5), Gomez (4), Van Dijk (5), Robertson (6), Fabinho (6), Jones (5), Elliott (6), Salah (5), Firmino (5) , Oak (6).
Subs: Alexander-Arnold (6), Henderson (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6).
Match player: Steve Cook.
How Forest surprised Liverpool
Forest started brilliantly from the start and while Liverpool had the best openings in the first half, it was the home side that got a standing ovation at half-time after a battle-hardened performance that showed enough initiative on the counterattack.
Jesse Lingard and Morgan Gibbs-White provided good support, with Awoniyi called back as the focal point. Liverpool’s attack initially looked more fluid in Nunez’s absence, but throughout the movement, the best chances fell to a centre-back.
Brennan Johnson dropped to the Nottingham Forest bench for the first time in the Premier League with Taiwo Awonyi coming on. The other change for Steve Cooper was one he made on the spot against Brighton with Orel Mangala replaced by Cheikhou Kouyate.
Jurgen Klopp made five changes to the Liverpool team that defeated West Ham. The five players who came off the bench in that game entered. They are James Milner, Harvey Elliott, Andy Robertson, Curtis Jones and Fabinho. Out of the cast were Darwin Nunez and Thiago.
In the first half, it looked easier for Van Dijk to head past Henderson from six yards from goal and between the width of the posts, but he attempted a nod to a teammate. He was symptomatic of Liverpool’s uncertainty as they chased their first away win.
Joe Gomez couldn’t contain Awoniyi and it was from a free kick granted by the defender that the goal came. Steve Cook did superbly to drop the ball and cross the goal, where Awoniyi beat Alisson after the first attempt bounced off the post.
Klopp played on Trent Alexander-Arnold in an attempt to save something from the game and the full-back nearly headed in the equalizer, only to be denied by Henderson. That was nothing compared to Van Dijk’s save in stoppage time, nailing his header.
Additionally, Cooper will be thrilled with the way his team defended the entire game, with Cook in the spotlight by disrupting the visiting offense. Consecutive clean sheets reflect their team’s improved determination and the payoff is that they move above rival Leicester in the table.
Liverpool could have overtaken Manchester United in fifth if they had won the points. Instead, it’s three discarded and more doubts cast into its form. Klopp has ruled out an offer for the title. Qualifying for the Champions League will be the concern in this competition.
FPL stats: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Liverpool
|bonus points||Awoniyi, Henderson (3 points) | Aurier (1pt)|
Cooper thrilled with Forest’s nostalgic win
Forest Chief Steve Cooper…
“To win a game against Liverpool you have to play well and have great moments, especially in both areas. It’s a positive result that we needed because of the race we’ve been doing, but it’s also a positive result in terms of history and nostalgia in around the game.
“I know Forest fans, when the games were released after they were promoted, would have thought about when today’s game would be. I’m pleased that we pleased many generations of fans today. So that was good too.
“We’re nowhere near where we want to be on the leaderboard or the points count that we’ve wanted so far. But it gave us a good benchmark to build on. That’s what we have to do. I don’t want it to be just words.”
Klopp regrets Liverpool’s finish
“Who can we blame for not ending situations? There aren’t many people we can blame. It’s just us. It’s a big blow for us because we came here and we wanted to get the three points. Under normal circumstances, we should have won this game, but we didn’t. We did.
“They defended with practically everyone they had. We had to do better. We’ve never played in this formation before and the most difficult thing in football is playing against a deep defensive team. Center.”
This was a reference to the absences of Nunez and Thiago. The attacker must return for the next game. “This game was too early.” But there is less certainty about Thiago’s ear infection. “There was no chance for him to do anything.” He was sorely missed.
Analysis: Awoniyi makes the difference for Forest
Cooper acknowledged that he had checked in with Neco Williams beforehand to ensure he was in a good frame of mind to face his former club, but he was another former Liverpool player whose aim was to make the difference between teams on the day.
Awoniyi spent six years in the books at Anfield without playing a single game for the first team. He has now scored against them. Gomez struggled the entire time, his physical presence proving to be too much for the England defender to handle at times.
“He works so hard,” Cooper said. “We played with him today because we thought he could be a handful for someone playing at centre-back. He really proved that and deserved his goal. I’m happy for him. Put him now with three goals.”
Three goals in his first three Premier League games at the City Ground, in fact. He’s been in and out so far, having been drafted into this one in favor of Brennan Johnson. Perhaps Awoniyi has done enough for an extended run now.
Whatever happens, he’s given these Forest fans a day they won’t forget.
Forest’s incredible stats win
- Nottingham Forest claimed their first Premier League victory in 10 matches, while recording their first home win over Liverpool since their 1-0 win in March 1996 under Frank Clark.
- Liverpool have failed to win any of their first five away games in a Premier League season for the first time since 2006 under Rafael Benitez.
- Liverpool have never won in six Premier League away games against Nottingham Forest – the City Ground is the only ground the Reds have played more than once in the competition and never won.
- Liverpool have failed to win in any of their last 13 visits to Nottingham Forest – this is currently the longest winless streak in away league football.
- Nottingham Forest became the first newly promoted team to win a Premier League game at home against Liverpool since February 2017, ending a run of 16 such games without a win for the newly promoted sides.
- Liverpool have lost three of their 11 Premier League games this season, one more than they lost in the entire previous campaign.
- Taiwo Awoniyi became the first Nottingham Forest player to score in each of their first three Premier League matches at the City Ground.
What is the next?
Saturday, October 29, 7:30 pm
Start 7:45 pm
Nottingham Forest are back in action on Sunday 30 October as they travel to Arsenal in the Premier League; 2pm departure. Liverpool travel to Ajax in the Champions League on Wednesday, before hosting Leeds at Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports; start at 19:45.