- Morgan Gibbs-White scored as Nottingham Forest beat Crystal Palace
- Wilfried Zaha missed a penalty for Palace in the final phase of the first half
- The win moves Forest to 18th place, while Palace remains in 11th place
Nottingham Forest finally had a helping hand from the VAR to claim a win that will ensure they are not bottom of the Premier League by Christmas.
Steve Cooper’s side began to feel the world was against them last week after being wrong on four controversial decisions by Stockley Park in the 2-2 draw with Brentford here.
But after Wilfred Zaha missed a penalty late in the first half, Morgan Gibbs-White scored the only goal of the game just before the hour.
Morgan Gibbs-White celebrates after his goal put Nottingham Forest ahead
Gibbs-White found the net in the 54th minute as Forest took the lead against Palace
Wilfried Zaha missed a penalty for Palace at the City Ground just before half time
Gibbs-White’s attempt at close range was initially flagged off, but after a painful wait, VAR decided he was onside and Forest had a win that would have been more comfortable with a better finish from Jesse Lingard. It also meant that they were above Southampton in the final round before the World Cup break.
After Forest saved a point here against Brentford in injury time last week, he needed a quick start but almost scored within two minutes. Poor defense gave Zaha a volley opportunity from 10 yards that he sent over the bar.
Zaha stepped up to take the dot, but he just couldn’t find it against Forest
Forest’s win saw Steve Cooper’s side disappear from the bottom of the Premier League table
Forest’s Jesse Lingard (left) and Dean Henderson (right) celebrate after their win
Zaha was involved moments later with a short cross that palmed Dean Henderson into Jordan Ayew’s path, although the attacker didn’t react quickly enough and the opportunity was lost.
On the other side, Gibbs-White sent Brennan Johnson to the right and the sliding Lingard was desperately close to converting the cross at the far post.
Nottingham Forest: Henderson 6; Aurier 7, Worrall 5.5, Boly 7, Lodi 6.5 (Williams 86); Yates 7, Freuler 7, Kouyate 6.5 (Colback 71, 6); Johnson 7, Gibbs-White 8 (O’Brien 86), Lingard 6 (Surridge 81).
Subs (not used): Hennessey, Cook, Awoniyi, McKenna, Taylor.
Booked: Yates, Kouyate
Crystal Palace: Guaita 6; Clyne 5.5 (Hughes 79), Andersen 6.5, Guehi 6, Mitchell 5 (Ward 60, 6); Olise 5, Doucoure 6 (Edouard 85), Schlupp 6; Ayew 5 (Mateta 59, 6), Zaha 5, Eze 5 (Ebiowei 78).
Subs (not used): Johnstone, Milivojevic, Tomkins, Riedewald.
Booked: Mitchell, Guehi, Schluppa
Referee: John Brooks 5
Although they played without an Orthodox striker, the pace and mobility of Johnson, Gibbs-White and Lingard Palace caused problems. Gibbs-White tapped one for the attacking Lingard, who was knocked over by Tyrick Mitchell as he prepared to fire.
To the fury of the home fans, only a yellow card was shown. In all fairness, Lingard went away from goal, but Mitchell was also lucky not to have been booked for an off-the-ball tangle with Ryan Yates before.
Forest felt even gloomier just before half-time when Zaha Joe Worrall turned around and was clumsily dragged to the side – a clear penalty. Fortunately for the Forest skipper, Zaha’s hit was devastating and hit the outside of the post wide in its path.
The umpires had made some strange decisions in the first half, but didn’t add more than a minute of stoppage time. There was a three minute delay before the Mitchell/Lingard incident only when the palace man was treated, and another two minute break between the foul on Zaha and the moment he took the penalty.
There was little action in the early part of the second half until Forest finally got the pinch of the green from VAR. Vicente Guaita parried Johnson’s oblique attempt in Gibbs-White’s path and although the attacker poked into the rebound, he was quickly marked offside.
However, after studying replays for about three minutes, VAR official Darren England ruled that Gibbs-White had been onside by the narrowest margin. The goal stood.
Palace responded by sending Jean-Philippe Mateta and Joel Ward to the ineffective Ayew and Mitchell and while they had most of the ball they struggled to make it count.
Gibbs-White was easily Forest’s most creative player, and he was at the center of a fine chance given to Lingard with fifteen minutes to go. The former Wolves man paired up with Renan Lodi before crossing from the left to Johnson to knock off Lingard. From the perfect position close to the penalty spot, Lingard somehow failed to hit the target.
Lingard’s aim was bad again as he was pushed through by Gibbs-White to lift his finish over the bar, although this time the flag had been raised. Michael Olise’s free kick in stoppage time came to nothing and the City Ground greeted the final whistle with a resounding roar.