Hillal Soudani’s first goal for Nottingham Forest ensured that The Reds came out on top with a 1-0 victory over Reading this afternoon.
The Algerian came off the bench to curl a fine effort into the corner of the net on an afternoon when Forest had to battle and grind out the result in front of a packed City Ground to pick up their first three points of the season.
Aitor Karanka named an unchanged starting 11 to the one that performed impressively against West Brom on Tuesday night, with Matty Cash replacing Diogo Goncalves on the substitutes' bench as the only alteration.
The first opening of the game arrived on 13 minutes for the visitors as former Forest loanee Modou Barrow played a neat through ball for Yakou Meite. He controlled inside the area but a challenge from Tendayi Darikwa put him off and Costel Pantilimon was able to stop the Reading man's effort with his legs and clear from danger.
Reading were doing a good job of pressing Forest on the ball, forcing errors as The Reds looked to impose their game on The Royals. But as the half wore on, Forest had some joy as they mounted pressure on Vito Mannone's goal without creating anything clear cut.
On 36 minutes, Lewis Grabban showed great strength to outmuscle Tiago Ilori after Ben Osborn's chipped pass, but Mannone was out quickly to smother the ball at the striker's feet before he could get any shot of note away.
On the stroke of half-time, a superb Osborn pass again found the run of Gil Dias, who charged inside from the right flank. The Portuguese did well to control on his chest on the edge of the box but he couldn't connect with his acrobatic effort and Reading were able to clear.
The Reds weren't quite at it in the first half, but they came out after the break on the front foot, with Adlene Guedioura curling an effort wide of the target via a deflection and Tobias Figueiredo heading over the bar from the resulting corner.
A deep free kick into the Forest area on 49 saw Meite get a header on goal but it drifted wide of the target and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson got the wrong side of Figueiredo to shoot wide of the near post a few minutes later as The Royals showed their attacking threat.
Karanka brought on Hillal Soudani and Matty Cash to try and add some fresh impetus into the Forest attack and it nearly paid dividends just before the hour. Soudani was involved in the build-up play which led to Osborn's cross from the left. Cash arrived to volley at goal from the penalty spot but he couldn't keep his left-footed effort down and under the crossbar.
And it was the Algerian international who broke the deadlock on 68 minutes with a fine curling finish. Cash kept the ball alive at the back post and Soudani latched onto the loose ball to bend an effort around Mannone and into the far corner for his first goal in English football.
After taking the lead, The Reds had to be alert as strong defending by firstly Danny Fox and then Figueiredo ensured that Bodvarsson couldn't get a shot away on 73, but the Icelandic front man manager to get a header on target on 77 which Pantilimon had to be alert to.
The Reds were resolute in defence to keep Reading at arm's length and also look threatening on the counter attack. Cash did superbly well to harry his man and win the ball back high up the pitch on 88 minutes. His first effort was saved then his volley into the ground looped up and over Mannone but onto the roof of the net.
Forest had to dig in and grind out the victory and they did just that, much to the delight of a packed City Ground as Karanka's men earned their first victory of the season.s
Forest: Pantilimon, Darikwa, Figueiredo, Fox (c), Osborn, Colback, Guedioura, Dias (Cash 56'), Carvalho (Soudani 56'), Lolley (Robinson 78'), Grabban
Unused subs: Smith, Watson, Murphy, Dawson
Goal: Soudani 68'
Reading: Mannone, Yiadom, McShane (c), Ilori, Blackett (Richards 82'), Meite, Meyler (Bacuna 71'), Kelly, Barrow, Baldock (McNulty 59'), Bodvarsson
Unused subs: Walker, O'Shea, Swift, Clement
Booking: Barrow 81'
Referee: Stephen Martin
Attendance: 27,948 (826 away)