N Forest 2 – 2 Everton
Nottingham Forest twice came from behind to rescue what could prove to be a crucial Premier League point after a pulsating 2-2 draw with Everton.
Goals weren’t potentially on the agenda for many at the City Ground with both sides struggling to score in recent weeks, but a pulsating first half saw Demarai Gray give Everton the lead from the spot (10) after Dwight McNeil was fouled by Jonjo Shelvey before Brennan Johnson found an instant equaliser for Forest (19).
Abdoulaye Doucoure, who told Sky Sports this week that he was close to leaving Everton when Frank Lampard was manager, showed his importance to Sean Dyche’s side when he headed them back in front to score his first goal since September 2021.
With so much at stake for both sides, the second half began in feisty fashion with tackles flying in and numerous bookings being dished out, but in the end, it was Johnson who kept his composure as his fine finish sealed a share of the spoils and stretched Forest’s unbeaten run at the City Ground to nine matches.
The draw sees Everton stay in the relegation zone and they remain four points behind Forest, who stay 14th.
How the bottom of the Premier League table looks…
Keane: A huge point for Forest; Dyche will be disappointed
Sky Sports’ Roy Keane on Super Sunday:
“Without a doubt [it’s a better point for Nottingham Forest]. It’s a huge point for Forest.
“It will be disappointing for Everton, who when they were 2-1 up lacked the belief that they could get over the line and win the game.
“In the end, Forest deserved a point, but Sean Dyche will be disappointed his side gave up the lead.”
How Forest stayed four points above Everton…
The pressure was firmly on Everton going into the game with Dyche’s side knowing defeat would see them drop seven points behind Nottingham Forest.
However, it didn’t show with Everton starting the better of the two sides and they were rewarded with an eighth-minute penalty after Jonjo Shelvey tripped Dwight McNeil.
Nottingham Forest: Navas (6), Aurier (6), Worrall (7), Felipe (6), Lodi (7), Freuler (6), Shelvey (6), Colback (6), Johnson (8), Gibbs-White (7), Wood (7).
Subs: Yates (7), Dennis (6), Ayew (6).
Everton: Pickford (6), Coleman (6), Keane (6), Tarkowski (7), Godfrey (6), Iwobi (7), Doucoure (7), Gueye (7), Onana (6), McNeil (7), Gray (8).
Subs: Maupay (n/a), Davies (n/a).
Player of the match: Brennan Johnson.
After a lengthy wait to check a Doucoure handball in the build-up to the foul, Gray converted from the spot, sending Keylor Navas the wrong way.
Forest responded well to going behind and they were level in the 19th minute after piling the pressure on Everton. Johnson was alert and he pounced to fire home the rebound after Morgan Gibbs-White’s shot had been pushed away by Jordan Pickford.
Forest were on top and pushing for a second but it was Everton that regained their lead, and it came against the run of play. James Tarkowski won the first header from a set-piece Doucoure stole in to head home from close range
Now it was Everton on top and they had chances to extend their lead before the break, but Navas tipped over McNeil’s powerful drive, while Gray saw a shot blocked at the far post as the visitors ended the first half with the lead.
After the break, the pressure cranked up on both sets of players as an ill-tempered affair unfolded, with several confrontations and rash tackles after the break.
The frequent pauses in play helped Everton, who were happy to see the clock run down, while Forest were frustrated as they struggled to build any momentum.
Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper made just one change to the team that lost 4-0 to West Ham last time out, with Serge Aurier coming in at right-back for his first appearance in Garibaldi Red since the 1-1 draw with Man City on February 18.
Neco Williams was the man to make way.
Everton boss Sean Dyche made two changes from the side that lost 4-0 to Arsenal in midweek.
Ben Godfrey and Demarai Gray came into the starting XI with striker Neal Maupay dropping to the bench, while Vitalii Mykolenko dropped out of the squad altogether.
Meanwhile, there was still no place for Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the Everton squad as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.
The visitors looked untroubled and in control as they looked to see out the game, but Forest found an equaliser out of nowhere in the 77th minute.
Substitute Ryan Yates found space down the right and he pulled it back to Johnson, who was unmarked in the area, and he steered the ball into the top corner to set up a grandstand finish.
He almost had a match-winning hat-trick in the final minutes but drifted an effort just wide from a tight angle as the game ended all square.
Player of the match – Brennan Johnson
Sky Sports’ Andy Hinchcliffe: “Brennan Johnson has really showcased his talents today. He can dribble, he can cross, he can score goals. His second goal today, with the composure and intelligence of his positioning, was outstanding.”
Sky Sports’ Graeme Souness on Johnson’s finish: “It’s a class finish. He knows exactly what he’s going to do with it. He doesn’t try to smash it and places it, blindsiding the goalkeeper as he plays it around the Everton defender. That’s the mark of a real cool finisher.”
Opta stats: Everton still winless away, Forest still unbeaten at home…
- Everton are winless in their last nine Premier League games away from home (D3 L6), while no side in the top-flight have won fewer such games than the Toffees this season (1).
- The Toffees are winless in their last nine Premier League games against promoted sides (D4 L5), the longest ever such run by an ever-present side in the competition.
- Nottingham Forest are unbeaten in their last nine Premier League home games (W4 D5), with only Manchester United (11) on a longer current run. It’s their longest run without defeat at the City Ground in the top-flight since a run of 20 between February 1995 and January 1996.
- Forest are unbeaten in their last three Premier League matches against Everton (W1 D2). However, this was the first time that they avoided defeat at home to the Toffees in their last three such league games (L2 before today).
Sunday 5th March 1:00pm
Nottingham Forest travel to Tottenham in the Premier League next Saturday at 3pm before hosting Newcastle on March 17 at 8pm, live on Sky Sports.
Up next for Everton is a Premier League home game against Brentford next Saturday at 3pm. Sean Dyche’s side then travel to Chelsea on March 18 at 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports.