Nottingham Forest 3 – 1 Brighton & Hove Albion
Nottingham Forest came from behind to beat Brighton and climb out of the relegation zone.
A Pascal Gross own goal in first-half stoppage time was followed by a precise low shot from Brazilian midfielder Danilo and finally a Morgan Gibbs-White penalty sent the City Ground into raptures.
The final whistle brought roars of approval from the home supporters as Forest’s 11-game run without a win came to an end.
It was the first time this season they had won a match after conceding first and was enough to lift them above Everton and local rivals Leicester.
Victory didn’t look likely as the first-half drew to a close as Forest trailed to Facundo Buonanotte’s tap-in after Brennan Johnson’s early penalty had been saved by Jason Steele.
But they rallied superbly for manager Steve Cooper to breathe life into their survival chances.
It wasn’t all good news as Neco Williams was stretchered off after getting hurt in nasty collision with Johnson as the pair tried to reach Gibbs-White’s chipped cross to the far post.
FA Cup semi-finalists Brighton failed to make the most of their first-half superiority as their hopes of recovering from that Wembley defeat disappeared.
Forest rally to fans’ backing
Six of Forest’s seven Premier League victories have come at the City Ground and on nights like this, it is easy to understand why.
Forest fans sing of the ‘mist rolling in from the Trent’ and it is like that with the noise they make.
Despite not winning a game since 5 February and seeing their team slide closer and closer to the trap door that could send them straight back to the Championship, they have backed their team and, most importantly, Cooper.
After four straight defeats, it would have been easy for heads to drop after Kaylor Navas inexplicably pushed Solly March’s shot straight to Buonanotte.
Instead, in the stands they turned the volume up and on the pitch, Cooper’s players kept their intensity, they worked hard to keep Brighton out for the remainder of the opening period and, after Gross had turned Renan Lodi’s cross-shot into his own net, dominated the second half in the search for victory.
Danilo kept going after he had robbed Moises Caicedo inside the Brighton half, running clear onto Taiwo Awoniyi’s pass before driving a low shot past Steele.
And there was a lot of pressure on Gibbs-White to convert his spot kick given there was still 10 minutes of injury-time to play when Lewis Dunk needlessly handled as he jumped to clear a corner.
The former Wolves man kept his nerve to send Steele the wrong way and seal a victory that sparked scenes of jubilation at the final whistle.
Buonanotte a teenage Brighton star
Brighton have made an art form of recruiting young players from South America and in Buonanotte, they have unearthed another potential star.
The 18-year-old joined the Seagulls from Rosario in January and whilst his development has been carefully handled by De Zerbi, he did not look out of place on his first league start.
In truth, he couldn’t have been given an easier opportunity to score on his debut but it could also be argued it was only a tap-in because he had moved into the right area to profit from Navas spilling March’s shot.
He might have had a second but unselfishly chose to set up Kaoru Mitoma as he ran through on Navas when the scores were level. The Japan star failed to covert and the miss ultimately proved pivotal.
As for Buonanotte, amid a belief that Alejandro Garnacho will snub the FA Cup final to report for World Under-20 Championship duty with Argentina next month, it will be interesting to see what choice the Brighton youngster makes.