Taiwo Awoniyi’s Nottingham Forest moved out of the relegation zone as Brazilian Danilo scored his first goal for the club to help seal a 3-1 Premier League victory over Europe-chasing Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday.
Brennan Johnson missed an early penalty for Forest at the City Ground and Brighton deservedly led when 18-year-old Argentine Facundo Buonanotte also netted for the first time in the Premier League.
But Forest forced Brighton midfielder Pascal Gross to put the ball into his own net seconds before halftime, and Danilo capitalised from more sloppy play to put the home side in front in the second period.
Morgan Gibbs-White added a late third from another spot-kick as Forest climbed to 17th with 30 points from 33 games, one clear of the drop-zone, while Brighton remain in eighth position on 49 points from 30 matches.
The victory, achieved with 25 percent possession, ends an 11-game winless streak for the hosts, who had to weather a storm from their visitors in the first half, but profited from three Brighton errors to snatch victory.
“Brighton are a really good team, but we felt we could create chances against them,” Forest manager Steve Cooper told the BBC. “We accepted they would have more of the ball, but that does not turn into real chances.
“It was a great example of resilience and that is what it takes. You have to roll your sleeves up and fight harder, and the players did that. There is still lots of work to be done.”
There was perhaps a hangover for the south coast club from their penalty shootout loss to Manchester United in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final as they lacked their usual precision and wasted numerous opportunities to score in a below-par performance.
Johnson saw his early penalty saved superbly by Brighton goalkeeper Jason Steele and the nerves grew more strained for the home fans when Buonanotte tapped home after Keylor Navas spilled a tame shot into his path.
The home side were level at the break as Gross turned Renan Lodi’s low cross into his own net, after which Kaoru Mitoma missed a golden chance for the visitors.
Forest took the lead when Brighton’s Moises Caicedo was sloppy in possession and Danilo was sent clear to score, before Lewis Dunk’s late handball provided another spot-kick for the hosts and this time Gibbs-White made no mistake.
“We played well and controlled the first half, but they took their chances in the second half,” Steele said. “I don’t think Sunday had an effect. We had enough time to get over that.
“It was just one of those nights when the big moments went against us.”