Nottingham Forest 2-1 Manchester United. Morgan Gibbs-White scored an 82nd-minute winner as Nottingham Forest recorded their first Premier League victory over Manchester United in 29 years to bring 2023 to a miserable end for Erik ten Hag’s side.
It looked as if Marcus Rashford had rescued a point for the visitors when he capitalised on a blunder from Forest keeper Matt Turner 12 minutes from time and end his wait of more than six hours for a Premier League goal.
But after Turner had redeemed himself with a fine save to deny Christian Eriksen, Forest counter-attacked and Gibbs-White struck the decisive blow from a neat cut-back from former United forward Anthony Elanga.
After a tepid first-half, Nicolas Dominguez opened the scoring as new manager Nuno Espirito Santo steered Forest to back-to-back victories for only the second time since being promoted back to the top flight.
It was another desperate night for Ten Hag, and it was in front of Sir Dave Brailsford, who will have a significant say in United’s on-field operations following Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s 25% purchase of the club.
It was United’s 14th defeat of a dreadful campaign, their highest number of losses before the end of a year since 1930-31.
United have been beaten four times in December alone and could end this round of matches in ninth spot, just three points in front of Chelsea.
Ten Hag told Brailsford he did not want to speak to him yet because of the packed Christmas programme but has said he feels INEOS are looking forward to working with him.
Those talks are bound to happen in January, when United only have a single Premier League game, although whether Ten Hag will want to disrupt preparations before a potentially perilous FA Cup third-round tie at League One Wigan on 8 January is open to debate.
It is clear one of the issues Brailsford and fellow INEOS representative Jean Claude-Blanc need to sort out as a matter of priority is recruitment – and there is no greater evidence of where United have gone wrong in that department than Brazil winger Antony.
It is 16 months since Ten Hag pushed to sign Antony, United eventually paying £81m for the winger, making him their second most expensive signing after Paul Pogba.
Sat together in the directors’ box, neither Brailsford nor Sir Alex Ferguson could possibly have been thinking his latest performance made the fee look value for money.
The winger’s supporters say he does not shirk work and can be trusted to track back.
That may well be true, but it ignores the point there is little end product from him.
Towards the end of the first half, Rashford presented him with a shooting opportunity inside the penalty area but before he could decide how to manipulate the position into a chance, Forest defenders surrounded him and the chance disappeared.
A few moments later, he shaped as if he was going to take his opponent on at the touchline but, stuck between going down the line or cutting inside as he prefers, he did nothing and the ball ended up going out for a throw.
When he was replaced by Amad Diallo after 54 minutes it meant Antony had failed to score or set up a goal in 21 consecutive appearances.
Amad cost £19m and did not do much to justify that smaller fee either – but the Ivory Coast youngster has only just returned from a serious knee injury, so judgement on him should be reserved.
The relief on the face of Forest keeper Turner at the final whistle was clear for all to see.
The United States international had a shaky start to the game, with a couple of wayward passes putting the hosts in trouble as he attempted to follow Nuno’s demand to play out from the back.
His propensity to misplace passes ultimately proved costly as Rashford celebrated an equaliser where the blame lay squarely at his door.
An attempt to play out of his area was intercepted by the alert Alejandro Garnacho, who found Rashford and he applied a superb first-time finish.
Anguish soon turned to relief for the former Arsenal man, though. His save from Eriksen allowed him to start a counter that ended with Gibbs-White driving home his second goal of the season.
As Gibbs-White raced to celebrate with the Trent End faithful, at the other end of the field Turner was repeatedly punching the air.
He still had one more bit of work to do, repelling a deflected Bruno Fernandes effort as United pushed forward in desperation and the ruffle of hair from Moussa Niakhate underlined he had earned a memorable reprieve.
source – BBC