Serge Aurier scored the equalizer to help Nottingham Forest produce one of the close football results of the weekend in the Premier League. Steve Cooper was pleased with Forest’s significantly improved second-half performance that saw his team earn a crucial point in the match, even though they were unable to earn all three points. Forest entered the game knowing a victory would lift them out of the relegation zone. Chelsea, who needed a victory to move within five points of the top four, appeared to be headed in the right direction when Sterling gave them a lead at the break.
Brennan Johnson broke through for Chelsea in the first half, but Kepa Arrizabalaga did well to stop the Wales international’s shot. Chelsea rarely got out of second gear throughout that period. Soon after, Willy Boly managed to divert Christian Pulisic’s cross onto his own crossbar, allowing Sterling to tap in the rebound from close range, giving the Blues the lead (16). But that was about it for Chelsea in terms of attacking; Potter’s team coasted to halftime before being completely outplayed by Forest in the second half. After returning to the starting lineup following a calf injury, Morgan Gibbs-White nearly tied the score with a powerful attempt from the edge of the box that hit the crossbar.
Following some shaky defense from a corner by Chelsea, Aurier was able to defeat Kepa just after the hour mark. The former Tottenham full-back controlled the loose ball before volleying it under the goalkeeper (63). As the clock approached the end of the game, Forest seemed content to settle for a point, giving Chelsea the chance to regain some control. When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang strangely missed Hakim Ziyech’s exquisite right-wing cross, Chelsea should have scored a late winner. However, the Blues were compelled to accept the close football results that does considerably more for Forest’s prospects of escaping relegation to the Championship than it does for their chances of finishing in the top four.
“We must recognize that you are competing against Chelsea. In the early and second halves of the game, we played pretty well tactically,” Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper said. “We didn’t press hard enough in the first half. We were too slow in pursuing the ball. In order to avoid getting played through and becoming too exposed against Chelsea, you must get up to the ball at the appropriate moment.”
“I believe the goal was a bad break for us. Despite having the potential to go anywhere, it lands on Raheem’s right foot,” he added. “We were much more active in our duels in the second half. If you consider the quantity of genuine opportunities in the game, I believe we were the better team overall. That said, a point is the least we should receive. We ought to glean some inspiration from the performance.”
“It’s a point achieved the hard way against a well-prepared opponent. They took advantage of the atmosphere to put us under a lot of strain, especially in the second half,” he added. “We didn’t do well enough to earn the three points. When we had possession of the ball, there wasn’t enough movement or quick passing. Although we made a slight comeback, it would have been unfair to claim the three points.”
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