Nottingham Forest rise to see off in-form Aston Villa

Aina and Mangala on target as Steve Cooper's side grab deserved victory

Nottingham Forest defender Ola Aina, centre, celebrates scoring the opening goal against Aston Villa. AFP
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Nottingham Forest put the brakes on Aston Villa's strong early season form with a deserved 2-0 win at the City Ground on Sunday.

A goal at the start of each half proved enough for the hosts with Ola Aina putting Forest ahead after five minutes and Orel Mangala doubling the lead just after the interval.

Villa dominated possession as they tried to get back into the game but struggled to create clear-cut openings. The defeat leaves them fifth - they had the opportunity to climb as high as third - while Forest move up to 12th in the Premier League table.

"It's a really good win. We came up against an in-form Aston Villa side with really good players," said victorious Forest boss Steve Cooper.

"We were committed to the plan and we've scored two goals from where we could create chances. Villa had a lot of the ball and we were okay with it because I never felt like we conceded any chances. Odysseas Vlachodimos made saves that he should be making. I never felt we were in danger of conceding today."

The visitors arrived at the City Ground riding high in the table and on a hot streak but Forest set about their task enthusiastically and were immediately rewarded. Anthony Elanga burst down the left and fed supporting left back Harry Toffolo. His low cross evaded everyone and eventually reached Aina who steered a firm low strike into the corner from the edge of the box.

Villa's response was unconvincing - lots of bluster and effort but a series of disjointed attacks that invariably fell apart at the key moment. Forest were happy to sit on their lead and sniff out opportunities to raid on the break.

Unai Emery responded to Villa's lacklustre first half by introducing Leon Bailey but they were soon 2-0 down. Mangala struck his long-range effort well enough but Emiliano Martinez, in the Villa goal, made an absolute mess of his attempted save, pushing the ball up into the air and watching on as it hit the ground and spun into his goal.

Villa pushed to get back into the game but Forest defended well to leave Emery frustrated.

"It is very hard to accept the result," he said. "We made some mistakes. We conceded early, but for another 80 minutes we played with a good mentality, to try and score.

"The second half they scored another early goal. After this we were controlling the game, creating chances and getting corners. It is very difficult when the other team score first. They defended deeply.

"We are fifth in the league, we have 22 points, of course if we could achieve the three points today we would be better. I am proud of the players, before this match I was very proud of the players.

"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."

Updated: November 05, 2023, 4:50 PM