Nottingham Forest’s excellent league form continued with a 1-0 win at Leeds this afternoon.
Nelson Oliveira scored the winner with a second-half header to give Forest the victory their excellent display deserved.
The Reds lined up with Matt Mills and Michael Mancienne in central defence, with a three-man midfield of David Vaughan, Gary Gardner and Robert Tesche. Ben Osborn and Jamie Ward provided the width and Nelson Oliveira lead the line.
Ryan Mendes, Dexter Blackstock, Oliver Burke and Jorge Grant provided attacking outlets from the bench.
Leeds claimed the first chance of the match in the third minute, Stuart Dallas crossing from the right and Souleymane Doukara nodding the ball wide.
Oliveira produced Forest’s response two minutes later, controlling Ward’s diagonal ball on his chest before being forced wide on his left foot. His effort was weak and Leeds keeper Marco Silvestri made a comfortable stop.
The Portuguese forward had an almost identical chance eight minutes later, receiving the ball from Gardner but once again being forced on to his weaker foot and failing to properly test Silvestri.
Forest were quickly getting to grips with the match, however, and the chances kept coming. On 16 minutes the ball bounced in front of Ward, who sent it dipping dangerously towards goal. To the relief of the home crowd, the ball dropped into Silvestri’s clutches.
Three minutes later Gardner was fouled by Liam Bridcutt in a dangerous crossing position. Ward’s delivery was disappointing but Leeds could only clear the ball to Gardner with time and space on his side. He composed himself before striking it sweetly towards goal, skimming the bar.
The visitors were firmly in the ascendancy and had perhaps their best chance of the half on 26 minutes. Osborn was the next Forest man to try his luck from range, sending the ball looping up off a Leeds defender and dropping into the middle of Leeds’ area. Tesche won the scramble to meet it first and tried to guide the ball home on the volley. He got too much purchase on his effort, however, sending it over the bar.
Forest full backs Bojan Jokic and Eric Lichaj were having solid games and the latter nearly gave Forest the lead ten minutes before half time. Osborn played the ball to Tesche from a quick free-kick and the German spotted Lichaj’s forward run, picking him out with a well-measured pass. Lichaj opted to shoot first time, arrowing the ball low and just wide of the post. The American was adamant Silvestri had touched it wide but the officials gave a goal kick.
The Reds had one more chance to take a lead into half-time moments before the whistle. Ward picked out Oliveira, who showed tremendous feet and strength to get goalside of his marker and into a shooting position in the area. Before he could strike the ball, however, a defender arrived to knock it out for a corner.
Neither manager made changes at the break as Forest sought another strong half.
And Freedman’s side nearly had the lead six minutes after the restart. Osborn released Oliveira down the left and the forward had the pace to get around Bellusci to the byline. He cut the ball into the middle where Ward for a second looked like he would have a simple tap-in, but Scott Wootton slid in heroically to quell the danger. Both keepers were called into action shortly afterwards, Silvestri making a comfortable save from Ward before Dorus de Vries held on to shots from Dallas and Charlie Taylor.
But Forest had the goal they deserved on the hour. Gardner dinked the ball into the middle from just outside the area, catching the Leeds defence flat-footed. Oliveira was on his toes, however, drifting into space eight yards out and nodding the ball low to Silvestri’s left. The keeper got a hand to it but couldn’t prevent the ball bouncing off the inside of the post and over the line.
The Reds nearly had a sensational second two minutes later when they won the ball high up the pitch. Osborn laid it off to Gardner 25 yards out and he produced a superb strike, sending it whistling inches over.
Freedman made his first change on 75 minutes when he sent Burke on in place of Ward.
And Forest continued their impressive display into the match’s latter stages. Tesche could have had a goal when he did well to control Lichaj’s low cross, rolling his marker in the same movement to create a shooting opportunity on his left foot. The midfielder didn’t strike it cleanly, however, and Silvestri was able to make the save.
Osborn was the next to have a go with his weaker foot, striking the ball straight at Silvestri from 20 yards after receiving a lay-off from Vaughan.
Oliveira, who had just drawn the game’s only booking from Liam Bridcutt, was replaced by Blackstock shortly before four minutes were added on at the end of the match.
And Forest saw the game out comfortably to claim an impressive victory at Elland Road.
Forest: De Vries, Lichaj, Mills (c), Mancienne, Jokic, Vaughan, Tesche, Gardner, Osborn, Ward (Burke 75'), Oliveira (Blackstock 88')
Subs not used: Evtimov, Cohen, Hobbs, Mendes, Grant
Goal: Oliveira 60'
Silvestri, Wootton (Adeyemi 90'), Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Cook, Bridcutt, Diagouraga (Erwin 81'), Dallas (Carayol 70'), Doukara, Antenucci
Subs not used: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Murphy
Booking: Bridcutt 87'
Referee: Scott Duncan
Attendance: 24,079 (2,266 away)