Nottingham Forest defied expectations by ending Aston Villa’s six-game unbeaten run in all competitions (W5, D1) with a confident Premier League victory at the City Ground.
Despite a string of six Premier League games without a win (D4, L2), Forest’s strong home form provided hope, having not lost a league match at the City Ground this season (W1, D3). Facing a formidable Villa side, Forest took an early lead within five minutes when Ola Aina skillfully side-footed Harry Toffolo’s cut-back into the net – Aina’s first goal for Forest and only his sixth senior career goal.
Although only three of their 12 home league goals had come before halftime, Steve Cooper’s team capitalized on their quick start, keeping Villa mostly at bay and posing threats during transitions. Villa managed to breach Forest’s defense once, but Nicolò Zaniolo’s low shot was expertly saved by Premier League debutant Odysseas Vlachodimos. Both teams had penalty appeals turned down as the first half concluded, allowing Forest to go into halftime in the lead.
Ollie Watkins demonstrated his determination with an early shot on target after the restart, but within two minutes, Forest extended their lead. Emiliano Martínez, who received the Yashin Trophy recently, made a rare error, allowing Orel Mangala’s long-range effort to bounce over the goal line, giving Forest an unexpected two-goal advantage.
Despite their previous setback against Luton Town, Forest remained resolute in defense, thwarting several Villa attacks as time dwindled. Villa intensified their attacking efforts in the final moments but ultimately fell short, failing to score in the Premier League for only the second time this season and maintaining just one clean sheet in their last eight games. Meanwhile, Forest’s valuable three points propelled them to 12th place, having lost only one of their last five league matches (W1, D3).