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Wood strikes late as Forest sink Blades

Chris Wood clinched Nottingham Forest’s first Premier League win this season as the New Zealand striker’s last-gasp header sealed a 2-1 win against Sheffield United on Friday.

Wood netted in the 89th minute at the City Ground to ensure Forest bounced back from their 2-1 defeat at Arsenal in their season opener last weekend.

Steve Cooper’s side had taken the lead early in the first half thanks to Taiwo Awoniyi’s header.

Gustavo Hamer equalised before the break on his Blades debut. The midfielder arrived last week from second-tier Coventry.

Wood’s dramatic late contribution made it successive defeats for United on their return to the top flight after last season’s promotion as Championship runners-up.

The Blades lost 1-0 at home to Crystal Palace last weekend.

Dating back to last season, Forest have won four in a row at the City Ground as a top-flight side for the first time since 1996.

“We played the real football in the game, the real tactical ideas. In the end we’ve scored two really good goals,” Cooper said.

“When we start a game like that, we should show more ruthlessness to make it more comfortable than it was. When we played our football we were far superior.

“Maybe we don’t win that last year. Maybe it’s a draw. Hopefully, it’s progress.”

Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom added, “Forest started the game really brightly. We made errors and conceded from one.

“But we more than matched them after 20 minutes. That was the performance we wanted to see.”

Wood makes his mark

Awoniyi, Forest’s top scorer from last season, repaid Cooper’s faith after being restored to the starting line-up.

He is just the second Forest player to score in six successive games in the Premier League after Stan Collymore in 1995.

In the first top-flight meeting between these sides since the maiden Premier League season in 1992-93, Forest took just three minutes to seize the initiative.

Serge Aurier’s cross was perfectly placed for Awoniyi to muscle between two defenders and power a bullet header past United keeper Wes Foderingham.

In the last 15 years, only two players other than Awoniyi have scored six of their club’s goals in a row — Christian Benteke for Aston Villa in 2015 and Erling Haaland for Manchester City last season.

Morgan Gibbs-White’s low drive from the edge of the area was Forest by Foderingham as Forest poured forward in search of a second goal.

Awoniyi and Aurier threatened again, with the Nigeria forward only denied another goal by Anel Ahmedhodzic’s last-ditch clearance.

After a wretched start, United finally mustered a shot when Vini Souza’s 25-yard curler drew a good save from Matt Turner.

Turner had to save again when John Egan scuffed a close-range effort goalwards from Hamer’s corner.

The Blades’ pressure was rewarded in the 48th minute as Hamer curled a sublime finish into the far corner from the edge of the area.

Awoniyi thought he had restored Forest’s lead but his dinked finish was disallowed for offside.

Willy Boly’s close-range strike from a corner was repelled by Foderingham before Turner came to Forest’s rescue with a good save from Beni Traore.

Both sides pushed hard for the winner but it was Forest who hit the jackpot in the 89th minute.

Once again it was Aurier who provided the assist with a telling cross that Wood flicked past Foderingham to the delight of the raucous City Ground crowd.

AFP

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