Forest win thriller to leave Southampton on brink

 

Nottingham Forest's Taiwo Awoniyi (centre) celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game with team-mates during the Premier League match at City Ground, Nottingham. Picture date: Monday May 8, 2023.

Nottingham Forest came out on top in a seven-goal thriller at the City Ground to climb out of the bottom three and leave Southampton on the brink of relegation.

In a raucous atmosphere on a rain-soaked night, Forest established a two-goal cushion on three occasions – and each time the visitors responded to pull themselves back into the contest.

But Southampton couldn’t manage an equaliser. Now they must win all three remaining games and hope either Forest don’t pick up another point, or Everton fail to get more than one, otherwise they will be back in the Championship for the first time since 2012.

In contrast, Forest have their fate in their own hands.

Taiwo Awoniyi scored his first double for the club in the space of three first-half minutes, profiting first from Danilo’s superb cross-field pass that allowed Brennan Johnson to set him up to volley home from close range after a goalmouth scramble.

Carlos Alcaraz pulled one back for Southampton, only for Morgan Gibbs-White restore the home side’s two-goal cushion from the penalty spot a minute before the break.

After Lyanco’s header had given Southampton fresh hope at 3-2, Gibbs-White was then instrumental in Forest’s fourth.

The England Under-21 international had the awareness to flick Johnson’s cross into an unmarked Danilo’s path for a cool finish, rather than go for goal himself.

James Ward-Prowse’s injury-time penalty ensured nerves were being shredded right to the very last seconds of a staggering day of Premier League action.

At kick-off, both these sides occupied the bottom two places and ended with Forest scrambling up to 16th – three points clear of third-bottom Leicester – and with rising hopes of preserving their top-flight status.

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