Taiwo Awoniyi’s first half goal helped secure Nottingham Forest’s first Premier League win since 1999 as West Ham United were beaten 1-0 at The City Ground on Sunday afternoon.
Making two changes from the opening day defeat at Newcastle United, Jack Colback was an enforced change through illness and was replaced by Orel Mangala for his first start in the Garibaldi, whilst Awoniyi replaced Sam Surridge.
Forest started brightly and had the better of the opening stages, Neco Williams and Awoniyi looked a threat as the pair combined but the resulting header from a right-sided cross fell just over Łukasz Fabianski’s net.
Moments later, Williams had a chance to hit the target himself with a free-kick 25 yards out, however the Wales international was off target with his effort.
Our visitors had their first sight of goal on 8 minutes as Aaron Cresswell stepped up to curl a left-footed free-kick towards towards Dean Henderson’s net, seeing his effort dip narrowly over from 20 yards.
The Reds were delivering dangerous crosses into the West Ham penalty area and almost took the lead when the impressive Williams looked to find Moussa Niakhaté, however Hammers’ winger Jarrod Bowen was able to make the first contact and force Fabianski into turning the ball behind for a corner.
Declan Rice was the first name in the referee’s notebook for a challenge on Jesse Lingard as the former Hammers’ loanee looked lively on his City Ground debut.
Awoniyi came close again on 13 minutes as Williams found the forward with another fantastic ball into the penalty area, Taiwo’s movement taking him away from his marker but couldn’t quite steer the resulting effort on target.
Forest were forced into defensive action at the other end, Saïd Benrahma cut in from the left before curling towards the far-post, however Henderson made a fantastic diving save before Harry Toffolo reacted superbly to clear the loose ball under pressure from the on-rushing Bowen.
Fabianski was called into action again five minutes before the break, a dangerous cross from the left found Williams’ run towards the back-post but the goalkeeper made a smart stop from close range to smother the ball behind for a corner.
West Ham had the ball in the back of the net on 42 minutes, Benrahma finishing neatly after being played through by Rice, however a foul by Michail Antonio on Mangala in the build-up was spotted by VAR and after consulting his pitchside monitor, referee Rob Jones ruled out the strike.
With three minutes added on at the end of the first half, Forest found the breakthrough. Toffolo went on a surging run into the penalty before finding Lingard, his mis-hit shot fell for Awoniyi via a ricochet to convert the loose ball from close range and score our first Premier League goal at The City Ground since Chris Bart-Williams’ winner against Leicester City in May 1999.
Half time: Nottingham Forest 1-0 West Ham United
West Ham came out with purpose straight from kick-off and rattled the crossbar through Pablo Fornals, the Spaniard hitting a right-footed effort which bounced against the underside of the woodwork before falling for Tomáš Souček but his header on the follow up was fantastically saved by Henderson.
At the other end, The Reds looked to have doubled their lead as Johnson was played in by Mangala before dinking the ball past Fabianski in front of the Trent End, however following a brief check, he was ruled offside by VAR.
The Hammers rattled the woodwork again on the hour mark, Benrahma’s free-kick look destined for the back of the net only for the ball to hit the underside of the crossbar for the second time this afternoon before the loose ball was gathered by Henderson.
David Moyes’ side continued to probe and were awarded a penalty on 61 minutes after Scott McKenna blocked Souček’s effort with an arm and after another pitchside VAR review, Jones pointed to the spot and booked McKenna for his actions.
England international midfielder Rice stepped up to take the penalty at the Bridgford End, but Henderson was the hero again and got low to his right to keep out the spot-kick.
Former Reds forward Antonio had another chance to level with 20 minutes remaining, wriggling past Niakhaté only to find McKenna in his way with a superb block to deny the forward a goal on his Trentside return.
The visitors introduced recent big-money signing and Italy international Gianluca Scamacca into their foward line alongside Manuel Lanzini as David Moyes freshened up his attack, with Sam Surridge replacing goalscorer Awoniyi for The Reds after a fantastic shift from the Nigerian.
Forest were forced to withstand late pressure from the visitors, with Williams displaying fine defending once more to deny Kurt Zouma on the line in the closing stages and ensure The Reds’ clean sheet remained intact.
After an additional seven minutes of injury time, referee Jones blew his whistle as The City Ground celebrated its first Premier League triumph in 23 years to hand Steve Cooper’s side all three points.
Full time: Nottingham Forest 1-0 West Ham United
Forest: Dean Henderson; Joe Worrall, Moussa Niakhaté (Steve Cook 79′), Scott McKenna; Neco Williams, Lewis O’Brien, Orel Mangala (Cafú 84′), Harry Toffolo, Jesse Lingard; Taiwo Awoniyi (Sam Surridge 72′), Brennan Johnson
Substitutes: Wayne Hennessey, Giulian Biancone, Löic Mbe Soh, Alex Mighten, Lyle Taylor, Oliver Hammond.
Goals: Awoniyi (45′)
West Ham United: Łukasz Fabianski; Vladimír Coufal, Ben Johnson, Kurt Zouma, Aaron Cresswell; Declan Rice, Tomáš Souček; Pablo Fornals (Manuel Lanzini 69′), Saïd Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen (Maxwel Cornet 85′); Michail Antonio (Gianluca Scamacca 69′)
Substitutes: Subs: Alphonse Areola, Darren Randolph, Flynn Downes, Conor Coventry, Harrison Ashby.