Nottingham Forest substitute Chris Wood headed a late winner after teammate Taiwo Awoniyi’s sixth goal in consecutive games to grab a 2-1 home win over promoted Sheffield United and its side’s first points of the Premier League season on Friday.
In the quickest goal of the week-old campaign, the prolific Nigerian Awoniyi rose between two defenders in the third minute to meet Serge Aurier’s cross and power the ball beyond goalkeeper Wes Foderingham to give the hosts the lead.
But United, who came up from the Championship last season, roared back three minutes into the second half with a wonderful curling strike from Dutch midfielder Gustavo Hamer.
With both sides pressing for a winner, New Zealander Wood came off the bench to replace Awoniyi and flick home another Aurier cross to the joy of a packed City Ground.
“We played the real football in the game, the real tactical ideas. In the end we’ve scored two really good goals,” Forest coach Steve Cooper said.
“It’s important to get the first win of the season.”
The result left United without a point from their first two games back in the top flight. Both teams had suffered defeats in their opening Premier League fixtures.
“We deserved more, especially second half,” said Hamer.
“I got all the space, took a touch and just wanted to curve it in the top corner. You want to get a goal as soon as possible but you don’t get anything from a 2-1 loss.”
Forest fans thought Awoniyi had scored yet again when he lifted the ball over Foderingham in the second half but the goal was disallowed for offside. Prior to Wood’s strike, Awoniyi had bagged his team’s last six league goals in a row.
United’s Benie Traore missed a glorious chance when he broke free on goal at 1-1 but was thwarted by keeper Matt Turner.
Both defences looked shaky at times and left gaps, showing why they may struggle in such a high-quality league. But while Forest has amassed a large and expensive squad, United urgently need to recruit due to departures and injuries.
If they are to survive in the top flight, Paul Heckingbottom’s will need players making the same impact as Hamer, who scored on his Premier League debut after joining from Championship side Coventry City a week ago.
Wood’s goal was his 56th in the Premier League, the joint third-highest tally for players from Oceania, level with Tim Cahill but behind Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka.
It was Forest’s fourth consecutive home win in the Premier League, including three games last season, giving Cooper’s players belief that they can use their form at the City Ground for another successful push to stay up.
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