Manchester United beat relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest 2-0 at the City Ground on Sunday, with goals from Antony and Diogo Dalot helping United extend their Premier League winning run to three straight games. It was a comfortable, convincing performance from the Reds, who didn’t concede a single shot on target, though their win might have been even more comfortable with some better finishing.
Erik ten Hag responded to the catastrophic, injury-plagued draw with Sevilla with four changes to his starting lineup. Victor Lindelöf and Harry Maguire covered for Raphaël Varane and Lisandro Martínez, while Diogo Dalot started in an unusual left-back slot in the absence of Luke Shaw. Marcel Sabitzer was initially set to start in midfield, though sustained a groin injury in the pre-match warm-up, meaning Christian Eriksen was promoted into a starting berth.
United made a bright start to the match, and might have gone ahead in the opening seconds. Bruno Fernandes drilled a low cross into the six-yard box, where it was parried into the path of Jadon Sancho by Keylor Navas. Sancho’s shot was tame, and blocked by Forest centre-half Felipe.
The visitors looked the more dangerous throughout the first half, with Fernandes causing particular problems with his impressive passing range. Inside 20 minutes, he ran onto a loose ball to drive a powerful shot goalwards from the right side of the area, which Navas did well to push clear.
At the other end, Forest didn’t look particularly dangerous, save for on set-pieces. Harry Maguire might have been lucky to avoid conceding a penalty after a corner hit his arm, a few minutes before Scott McKenna flicked the ball against David de Gea’s post with his elbow.
United finally took a deserved lead just past the half-hour. Forest were caught napping in their own half, and Fernandes played a crisp first-time pass between two defenders to send Anthony Martial clean through. His low shot was well-saved by Navas, though he could do nothing to stop Antony from turning the rebound into an empty net.
The former Real Madrid keeper was on fine form for Forest, and only a superb diving save prevented Fernandes from doubling United’s lead early in the second half. His thunderbolt from the left side of the box was tipped onto the post by a Navas at full stretch, as Forest clung to their slender deficit.
The chances continued to flow for United, and still they continued to miss. Martial fluffed the next one, contriving to head a arcing Casemiro cross wide at the far post. It proved the Frenchman’s last touch of the game, and he soon trudged off, disappointed, to make way for Wout Weghorst.
When United’s second goal finally arrived, it came from an unlikely source. Antony did some brilliant work in midfield, cutting in from the right and sliding a low, left-footed pass through the Forest defence for the onrushing left-back Diogo Dalot. He made no mistake in the one-on-one, curling a striker’s finish past Navas and into the bottom corner for 2-0.
The win sees United move back above Newcastle United and into third place in the Premier League table, with the Magpies having suffered a surprise defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday. United are next in action away at Sevilla on Thursday, before next weekend’s FA Cup clash with Brighton.