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Nottingham Forest 0-2 Manchester City: Haaland back on the goal trail as defending champions march o

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Apr 2024

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Erling Haaland returned from injury to keep Manchester City’s title charge on track as Pep Guardiola’s side secured a 2-0 victory over relegation-battling Nottingham Forest.

Josko Gvardiol’s near-post header was all that separated the two sides at half-time as he fired City in front from a Kevin De Bruyne corner.

Forest were left to rue big opportunities missed in the opening 45 minutes, with Chris Wood and Murillo both having gilt-edged chances to find an equaliser at the City Ground.

But Guardiola, overseeing his 300th Premier League game as City boss, called upon Haaland in the second half, and the Norway international duly delivered to double City’s lead and nudge the reigning champions back to within a point of leaders Arsenal, who beat Tottenham earlier on Sunday.

It was almost a dream opening minute for Forest as Ola Aina’s floated cross to the back post was met by an unmarked Neco Williams, but he failed to connect properly with a close-range shot.

Forest were made to pay when City opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. De Bruyne’s excellent delivery found Gvardiol, who powered a header home at the front post.

Wood should have restored parity shortly after, as he found himself in acres of space when Gonzalo Montiel cut it back on the volley, but the ball got caught up in the striker’s feet with the goal at his mercy.

Forest went agonisingly close again on the stroke of half-time, with Ederson – who was subsequently taken off at the break – fortunate not to concede after he failed to deal with Callum Hudson-Odoi’s corner, but Murillo could not apply the finish a few yards out.

Wood saw another huge chance pass by early in the second half, but his close-range effort was blocked after some excellent work from Anthony Elanga down the left.

De Bruyne showed his creative spark once again as he slotted a throughball behind the Forest defence in the 63rd minute, but Julian Alvarez’s effort from the edge of the area flew into the stands behind the goal.

Matz Sels was called into action moments later, palming behind De Bruyne’s thunderous long-range strike, which was heading for the top-left corner.

But City’s second finally arrived when, in the 71st minute, De Bruyne teed up Haaland, who calmly got the better of his marker, shifted it onto his right foot and slotted into the bottom-left corner to end Forest’s hopes of a comeback.

While City remain hot on Arsenal’s heels, Forest stay just one point above the relegation zone, having lost three of their last four matches.

Guardiola – 300 not out

Sunday marked Guardiola’s 300th Premier League game in charge of Man City, seeing him become the 19th manager to reach this total, and just the fifth to do so for a single club.

Of the 300 games under the Spanish manager’s tutelage, City have won 221, scoring 741 goals in the process, while only conceding 247 times.

City now have a four-point lead over Liverpool, whose title hopes are fading quickly, and an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League crown is certainly on the cards for Guardiola.

Forest’s recurring issues show no sign of abating

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have now conceded 29 first-half goals in 35 league games this season, with only Sheffield United (38) and Burnley (30) having conceded more.

The Tricky Trees – who are one of three teams fighting for 17th place after Everton hauled themselves to safety over the past week – have also conceded 23 goals from set-pieces this term in the competition, at least five more than any other team.

Despite being behind at the break, Forest’s xG of 1.27 was the most by any side in the first half of a game against City this season, in all competitions, with a wastefulness in front of goal another glaring problem that Nuno must fix.

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