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Nottingham Post
Nottingham Post
Chris Watson

'Weaponised' - National media verdict on Nottingham Forest draw at Chelsea

Nottingham Forest further boosted their Premier League survival hopes as they claimed a valuable point against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Taiwo Awoniyi scored twice for the Reds in West London on Saturday, including a vital equaliser after England international Raheem Sterling has bagged a brace of his own to leave Steve Cooper's side facing defeat.

Forest ensured a share of the spoils, though, courtesy of a 2-2 draw, and have now taken four points from two games following their 4-3 home win over rock bottom Southampton. That leaves them 16th in the table with two games left to play, three points above the dreaded drop zone.

READ MORE: Special moment after Nottingham Forest draw as unity matched by steely spirit at Chelsea

READ MORE: Awoniyi challenge set as Forest face decisive final games

Arsenal at home and Crystal Palace away await for the Reds as they bid to retain their top flight status for another year. Here's a round-up of how our colleagues in the national media reported on events at Chelsea...

BBC Sport

The wisdom of Forest's decision to stick with Cooper when all around them at the bottom were changing managers - sometimes more than once - will be determined with the outcome of their final two fixtures.

Before the Chelsea game, they had won two of their past three matches - but that was after going 11 without a victory, a period when the Forest board must have been tempted to make a change as all four clubs below them had.

Cooper has found a golden touch at just the right time. Forest have been lamentable in London this season, losing all five previous league visits to the capital by a 16-2 aggregate.

But he turned that form around by frustrating Chelsea, helped by a change in personnel and formation; defender Joe Worrall was recalled in place of forward Brennan Johnson and they switched to a back five.

His reward was defensive resolve combined with an ability - especially through the aerial prowess of Awoniyi - to capitalise on the weak points of the hosts.

One more victory, or even two draws, might be enough to preserve their top-flight status and reward the Forest board for sticking with their man.

Sky Sports

After an abject first-half performance saw them booed off by some at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were transformed after the break although still vulnerable at set-pieces. Forest nearly made it 2-0 from a corner against the run of play but Moussa Niakhate could not get a foot on the ball at the back post.

Chelsea then took the lead with two quickfire Sterling goals. The first had a shade of fortune as his shot deflected off Ryan Yates on the floor into the roof of the net after Trevoh Chalobah's cut-back. Sterling then made Felipe look silly before cutting in on his right to give Chelsea the lead having gone eight games without a goal previously.

Forest looked in danger of caving in as Stamford Bridge got behind a resurgent Chelsea but they were bailed out by a long throw-in which was only half cleared allowing Orel Mangal to lump the ball back into the danger zone where Awoniyi was on hand to head home.

Lodi unleashed a fearsome effort with his left foot that was a whisker from putting Forest back in front but after that, it was all Chelsea in the closing stages. Forest, though, shut up shop and kept Chelsea at bay for the final 20 minutes to claim just their seventh point on the road in the league this season to the delight of the travelling fans who were jubilant at full-time as they serenaded the team.


One more priceless lungful of air for Nottingham Forest in their quest for Premier League survival, and improbably achieved away from home where this was just the seventh point they have plundered all season.

Stamford Bridge is the kind of destination where a club fighting to stay in the Premier League might currently just believe they have a chance. It feels remarkable but such is the current gloom that hangs over Chelsea in this benighted season, Frank Lampard’s interim team for an interim regime might just prefer to be away from home. Even against Forest who came with a plan that worked.

Forest had just 24 per cent of the possession but what they had they used well. A five-man defence, and a midfield that did its best to support them with, much resting on what Taiwo Awoniyi might be able to rustle up on his own up front. The answer was that he produced two goals, the second of which came when Chelsea had rallied to take the lead and looked like they might run away with it. These are the moments upon which seasons can turn.

Forest weaponised every dead-ball situation that they could – the “long, loopy throws” as Lampard described them as well as the corners and the free-kicks. They got the ball into the Chelsea penalty box early and you might say that Chelsea’s central defence did the rest. They were out-jumped the first time and slow to react on the second occasion. This is an anxious Chelsea team praying for the end of the season. They were booed off at half-time a goal down, and the home crowd just about suppressed the same instinct at the end.

Forest play Arsenal at home next Saturday, the club they beat as a Championship side in the FA Cup last season, and then are away at Crystal Palace on the final day. It might be that 34 points are already enough for Forest, currently three clear of Leeds United in 18th place.

Daily Mail

Nottingham Forest arrived in West London on the back of seven successive defeats on their travels and with the worst away record in Premier League.

Yet Chelsea were without a win in six league games at Stamford Bridge and Frank Lampard had yet to win at home since his return to the dugout.

Something had to give but neither side could find a winner, and thus it was perhaps apt that this thrilling game that swung back and forth with three goals in 11 minutes ended level thanks to two headers from Taiwo Awoniyi, either side of Raheem Sterling’s second-half brace.

It was certainly Steve Cooper’s side who ended the happier side with just their seventh point on the road all season.

When Paul Tierney blew the final whistle, the travelling contingent housed in the Shed End celebrated like they had won as they took yet another crucial step to safety.

The Sun

Taiwo Awoniyi kept Forest fighting in their survival battle with two more goals to cap a remarkable week.

The striker’s second was enough to grab a well-deserved point at Stamford Bridge and move three points clear of the Premier League bottom three.

And with only two games left to play, boss Steve Cooper’s side is inching towards safety even though it looks like going to the wire...

It is going to be a nervy ride in the next two weeks and Cooper started this game dressed up in a dark puffer jacket.

By the second half he was down to a navy blue T-shirt as he sweated on the touchline as his team’s fate swung each way.

Press Association

Raheem Sterling rediscovered his scoring touch as he netted both of Chelsea’s goals in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge that could prove vital for relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest.

Home fans had booed their team off at the break, trailing to a Taiwo Awoniyi goal for Steve Cooper’s side and looking no nearer in the first half to finding a solution to the lack of firepower that has derailed their season.

Then, in the space of seven second-half minutes, Sterling transformed the match. First a deflected shot bounced up into the corner after he was set up by Trevoh Chalobah, then he let rip with a brilliant solo goal that evoked the England forward at his electric best.

Yet instead of pressing on, Chelsea folded. Non-existent marking left Awoniyi free to head home and extinguish the lead four minutes later.

It ensured Forest stayed three points clear in their bid to beat the drop, and meant Frank Lampard’s long wait for a victory at this ground on his return as boss will go to the season’s final game.

Forest nearly stunned the hosts inside four minutes. Renan Lodi’s corner was whipped to the near post where Felipe met it with a firm header that flashed wide.

They took the lead soon after and it was Lodi again the provider, though Edouard Mendy – returning in goal for Chelsea – was badly at fault. The ball into the penalty spot did not look unduly threatening, but as the keeper raced from his goal Awoniyi climbed above two defenders to get to it first and head into an unguarded net.

It seemed to shake Chelsea to life, and they went close to levelling immediately when Sterling’s effort was blocked by the recovering Joe Worrall. Noni Madueke, increasingly influential in recent games despite the team’s indifferent form, showed excellent balance and feet on the right whenever he got on the ball, bursting through Forest with speed and skill.

On the other flank, Lewis Hall nominally at left-back showed barrels of attacking intent when Chelsea were in possession. He got forward after 30 minutes and, after making space with a clever shimmy, crossed for Joao Felix to dive into a header that was brilliantly held on the stretch by Keylor Navas.

Moussa Niakhate was an inch away from making it two for Forest in the first moments of the second half, he stretched out a leg to meet a flicked-on corner at the back post but could not make the contact required.

Chelsea did not need another warning. The equaliser arrived on 51 minutes, and Sterling owed his goal to good link-up play between Madueke and Chalobah. The pair worked their way in behind Forest and into a channel down the right, giving Chalobah the time and space to pick out a pass which Sterling swept home first time via a deflection off the stricken Ryan Yates.

Chelsea looked to ride the wave of noise that the goal had drawn from Stamford Bridge. Felix tried to catch out Navas with a driven effort from range that dropped onto the roof of the net, then Sterling took the roof off the stadium with his and Chelsea’s second.

There seemed to be little on when the ball was worked to him 12 yards out on a wide angle, but in a deft movement he took it under control, opened his body and shot perfectly beyond the dive of Navas. It was Sterling at his long-forgotten best.

It should have been a catalyst to drive Chelsea on to a rare home win. Instead, it invited a meekly predictable implosion. Orel Mangala’s cross into the centre of the box for Forest was an inviting one, and no one in blue had gone with Awoniyi who stunned home fans into silence with a firmly planted header.

Chelsea’s frustration started to show. Felix was booked for simulation, and attacks began to break down before the final third. Still Forest carried a threat, Lodi hit a bending drive that swung outwards and fractionally past the post.

Sterling had a chance to complete his hat-trick, racing forward to get on the end of Hakim Ziyech’s searching ball but lifting his header up and over the bar as he arrived.

There were few chances for either side after that, as Forest claimed a point that could prove of incalculable value.

Will Forest stay up? Have your say in the comments below


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