Aston Villa secured only their second Premier League win of the season as they beat Southampton in a scrappy encounter at Villa Park.
Steven Gerrard’s side have made an indifferent start to the campaign but they were able to build on the battling draw against Manchester City with a deserved victory.
Villa made nearly all the running in a game desperately short on quality and Jacob Ramsey broke the deadlock four minutes before the break after Southampton keeper Gavin Bazunu turned Ollie Watkins’ header on to the bar.
Southampton were far too timid and barely offered a threat all night, allowing Villa to close out an important triumph, their first since the second league game of the season against Everton, in comfort.
Villa grind out vital win
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard turned to his backroom staff with fists clenched at the final whistle. It was a signal of just how much he and his team needed this win.
It was, to be brutally honest, a dreadful game lacking in quality, but Gerrard will not care as Villa will take wins any way they can get them at the moment after a poor start to the season led to discontent among their supporters and scrutiny of the manager.
Villa started to rebuild when they took a point off Premier League champions Manchester City in their last home game, making further progress here with a win essential.
The winning goal from Ramsey was scrappy, totally befitting such a poor game, and was more than enough to see off Southampton, who hardly gave Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez an anxious moment all night, with Tyrone Mings dealing easily with any rare aerial threat.
It was not pleasing on the eye but Villa fully merited the win which will put Gerrard, his players and the club in a much more optimistic frame of mind heading into the international break
Nottingham Forest 1-3 Fulham
Fulham scored three goals in six minutes to come from behind and beat Nottingham Forest in an entertaining fixture at the City Ground.
The hosts led early on when Taiwo Awoniyi headed in a corner but were stunned by a remarkable Fulham comeback in the second half.
Tosin Adarabioyo headed in the equaliser after 54 minutes, before Joao Palhinha’s stunning strike made it 2-1.
Before Forest could catch their breath, Harrison Reed stroked in a third.
Fulham appeared to take control of the match as the second half wore on but a wonderful flick from Forest substitute Jesse Lingard set Brennan Johnson free and he teed up Lewis O’Brien.
Momentum switched back to Steve Cooper’s side but time ran out to score another as Fulham clung on for a third victory of the season.
It is the second Premier League match in a row Forest have thrown away a lead after their 2-0 advantage over Bournemouth ended in a 3-2 victory for the Cherries two weeks ago.
Fulham, who finished 10 points ahead of Forest in the Championship last season, had chances in both halves but were also heavily tested by the hosts.
Awoniyi and Morgan Gibbs-White both came close for Forest, while goalkeeper Dean Henderson was forced into saves to deny Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic, Kenny Tete and Andreas Pereira.
In the end, a ruthless six minutes from Fulham did the damage as Forest were again humbled by the harsh realities of life back in the top flight.
Both teams had observed a minute’s silence prior to kick-off, before supporters sang the national anthem and applauded on the 70th minute in tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Forest concede more as Fulham continue progress
This was a match-up between two teams who spent last season battling in the Championship and it had the same physical edge to a game you would expect to see in the second tier of English football.
Both teams were full of energy and aggression which made for an intriguing spectacle at the City Ground.
Tackles flew in at both ends of the pitch – Steve Cook was perhaps fortunate to receive just a yellow card for a foul on Fulham’s Willian when he was through on goal, while Issa Diop clattered into Forest’s Johnson to concede a wasted free-kick on the edge of the box later in the first half.
But as the game developed the battles became less equal and momentum swung in favour of either team in large spells.
Fulham appeared to be in control when leading 3-1 before Lingard’s superb flick helped set-up O’Brien’s goal, making for a nervous ending in Nottingham.
Forest pushed and pushed for an equaliser – while Fulham still had chances of their own – before eventually the visitors could settle things down again and see out the win.
Cooper’s side have already shown plenty of threat during their short time in the Premier League but they have now conceded 14 goals in their last four defeats, which will need to be addressed.
Fulham were also far too vulnerable on set-pieces but will be hugely encouraged by the 11 points they have picked up in their opening seven matches.