Nottingham Forest hit Leeds United with a three goal blitz in seven second half minutes in a Boxing Day bonanza at The City Ground.The Reds bounced back from their setback at Watford five days earlier in the best possible style by stunning the Championship’s form team.
Neil Warnock’s men had won five of their six previous games before arriving in Nottingham but they had no answer to Forest’s awesome display of firepower.
Billy Sharp led the way with two of the goals; Dexter Blackstock was also on the mark while a Rodolph Austin own goal added to Leeds’ misery.
The West Yorkshire outfit drew first blood, taking the lead through Paul Green, but Forest went in level at the break thanks to a Sharp penalty.
And they took complete command of the contest after the interval with a three goal blast that left Leeds reeling, although they recovered to bag a late, late second through Davide Somma.
Boss Sean O’Driscoll responded to the defeat at Watford by making four changes to his starting line-up.
One was enforced with Daniel Ayala serving a one-match ban following his sending-off at Vicarage Road, while Dan Harding, Guy Moussi and Simon Cox were relegated to the bench. Greg Halford, Adlene Guedioura, Radoslaw Majewski and Blackstock returned to the starting eleven.
Blackstock was just inches away from getting on the end of Andy Reid’s tantalising cross into six yard box but it was Leeds who opened the scoring with just 12 minutes on the clock.
The Reds failed to clear a cross in from the left and after Lee Camp had blocked El-Hadji Diouf’s initial effort, Green was on hand to score from close range.
Austin went close to a second goal for the visitors with a shot from 25 yards out that fizzed just a few inches over Camp’s bar.
Camp’s opposite number Paddy Kenny made his first save of the afternoon just before the half hour mark as he diverted Elliott Ward’s glancing header from Reid’s free-kick around his right-hand upright.
Forest had two appeals for penalties waved away before referee Lee Probert obliged at the third time of asking two minutes before the break. Tom Lees sent Sharp crashing six yards out and the striker stepped up to send Kenny the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick.
O’Driscoll’s men could have gone into the interval ahead but for a sprawling save by Kenny to keep out a deft Reid free-kick from just outside the area.
Forest started the second half brightly and Blackstock was just inches away from giving them the lead with a header from a Reid corner from the right.
The home support did not have long to wait to celebrate another goal, though, as Sharp edged The Reds in front after 54 minutes. Blackstock flicked on Ward’s ball forward, Sharp raced into space and after rounding Kenny calmly fired home.
They went 3-1 up moments later as Austin fired into his own net while trying to deal with Ward’s pull back from a partially cleared corner.
An offside flag denied Sharp his hat-trick as he headed home from Alan Hutton’s cross but Blackstock added a fourth in the 61st minute, heading beyond the reach of Kenny from Reid’s left-wing cross.
Cox replaced Sharp with 13 minutes remaining and he went close to bagging a fifth goal with a shot from just outside the area after a burst of pace had taken him clear of two Leeds defenders.
Kenny had to be at his best to keep out a long-range pile-driver of a shot from Hutton five minutes from time as Forest looked to really turn the screw on Warnock’s Leeds.
Guedioura fluffed an opportunity to get on the scoresheet in the dying seconds as he fired tamely wide after The Reds had counter-attacked swiftly.
Leeds pulled a goal back with 90 minutes on the clock as they broke quickly from a Forest corner and substitute Somma beat Camp from close range.
Forest: Camp, Hutton, Ward, Collins (c), Halford, Cohen, Guedioura, Majewski (Moussi 70'), Reid (Lansbury 83'), Blackstock, Sharp (Cox 77').
Subs not used: Darlow, Harding, Gillett, McGugan.
Scorers: Sharp 44' (pen), 54', Austin (og) 57', Blackstock 61'
Leeds: Kenny, Lees, Tate, Austin (Pearce 66'), Byram (McCormack 79'), Green, Diouf (Somma 65') , Brown (c), Drury, Becchio, Thomas.
Subs not used: Ashdown, Varney, White, Norris.
Scorers: Green 12', Somma 90'
Bookings: Brown 33', Green 51'
Referee: Lee Probert
Attendance: 26,670 (Away: 3,235)