Aston Villa 2-2 ForestA late goal from Henri Lansbury earned Nottingham Forest a share of the spoils in a thrilling Midlands derby against Aston Villa at Villa Park this afternoon.
A stunning strike from Apostolos Vellios had put The Reds in front 12 minutes into the second half but Robert di Matteo's side turned the game on its head and took the lead through goals from Ross McCormack and Rudy Gestede.
But Forest weren't to be denied something from the contest as Lansbury equalised with three minutes to play and, despite a red card for Hildeberto Pereira, they were able to take a hard-earned point back to Nottingham.
Philippe Montanier made four changes from the side that beat Leeds United before the international break. Vladimir Stojkovic, Danny Fox, Mustapha Carayol and Matty Cash came into the side in place of Stephen Henderson, Hildeberto Pereira, Chris Cohen and Oliver Burke. New signings Nicolao Dumitru and Lica were named among the substitutes.
Villa started brightly with Jack Grealish in particular looking dangerous in and around the Forest penalty area. The home side were restricted to long-range efforts though and on 18 minutes it was Jordan Ayew who stepped up but saw his well-struck free-kick clear the crossbar.
The hosts continued to dominate and nearly found a breakthrough on 33 minutes after good work by Ayew. He found Jonathan Kodjia on the right-hand side and the former Bristol City man sent it a cross for McCormack at the far post. The summer signing from Fulham beat Lichaj to the ball but saw his effort rebound off the post.
In the closing five minutes of the first half Villa continued to create opportunities to go in front. Ayew was a constant threat and after he saw and effort go high and wide, he nearly turned provider by finding Kodjia at the back post. The tall striker rose above the Forest defence and directed a header low towards the bottom corner only to see debutant Stojkovic get down well to palm away.
Forest had offered little going forward until Vellios put them in front on 57 minutes. Carayol picked up the ball on the right, found Lansbury in the middle and he squared it to Vellios. The Greek international found some space and rifled a shot past substitute goalkeeper Mark Bunn from 25 yards out into the top corner. It was The Reds' first attempt at goal and a first goal of the season for Vellios.
Despite Forest taking the lead the hosts still dominated possession and were creating chances with every attack. They were finally rewarded for their dominance on 72 minutes when McCormack levelled the scores.
It was good work from Ayew once more as he skipped past the challenges of Kasami and Lichaj and found McCormack in the penalty area. The striker, who had missed a golden opportunity to put Villa in front earlier on, calmly passed the ball into the Forest net.
Forest were rocking and were behind two minutes later. Ayew was the creator once again as he crossed for substitute Gestede and the former Blackburn turned well and finished superbly beyond the dive of Stojkovic.
Montanier's men showed exceptional character and fighting spirit to come from behind and level with three minutes to go. Pereira, who had come on to replace Thomas Lam, went on a mazy run through the Villa defence but, as he was challenged, the ball fell kindly for Lansbury to send a smart finish into the net.
Pereira, who had already been booked earlier in the half, was harshly shown a second yellow for his part in the celebrations but it wasn't to make any difference to the final outcome as Forest took a highly-creditable point from Villa Park.
Forest: Stojkovic, Lichaj, Mancienne, Perquis, Fox, Carayol (Dumitru 73'), Kasami, Lansbury (c), Cash (Lam 20' (Pereira 63')), Osborn, Vellios
Subs not used: Henderson, Mills, Licá, Grant
Goals: Vellios 57', Lansbury 87'
Bookings: Kasami 17', Fox 66', Vellios 70', Lansbury 78', Pereira 86'
Sent off: Pereira 88'
Aston Villa: Gollini (Bunn 46'), De Laet, Elphick (c), Chester, Cissokho, Gardner (Gestede 64'), Westwood, Ayew, McCormack, Grealish, Kodjia
Subs not used: Baker, Richards, Bacuna, Amavi, Jedinak
Goals: McCormack 72', Gestede 74'
Bookings: Cissokho 86', Ayew 90'
Referee: Simon Hooper
Attendance: 30,619 (2,767 away)