Nottingham Forest 1 Brentford 1
Nottingham Forest and Brentford managed to condense an entire match into nine entertaining second-half minutes at the City Ground. For almost an hour nothing happened until Moussa Niakhaté was sent off before Christian Norgaard and Nicolás Domínguez exchanged headers.
It was not one for the purists, with neither goalkeeper made to work particularly hard to keep the score down. Forest will be pleased that their new signings are looking to settle quickly, while Brentford showed marked improvement after the break to appease Thomas Frank as they ended a fifth match without a win.
Steve Cooper left Morgan Gibbs-White out of the team, leaving the attacking emphasis to the pace and skill of wingers Anthony Elanga and Callum Hudson-Odoi. The former Manchester United man showed his threat after 60 seconds when he got the wrong side of full back Aaron Hickey, forcing him to pull him back in exchange for a booking to leave the Brentford defender in a worrying position for the remaining 89 minutes.
Taiwo Awoniyi put the ball in the back of the net after poking home a Willy Boly flick on at a corner. The assistant referee quickly spotted the striker was offside and VAR did not disagree, even knowing what the original decision was and the goal was rightly disallowed but it was a sign of the danger offered by Awoniyi inside the box.
Forest had 21-year-old Murillo, although the kitman added an extra R to his shirt, making his debut at centre back. The Brazilian looked happy with the ball at his feet and could read dangerous situations perfectly, to give the impression of another promising new arrival.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim Sangaré was showing why Forest spent two summers convincing him to join. In his first two appearances against Burnley and Manchester City he struggled but impressed with his touch and was composed on the ball in the middle of the park.
The first quarter of the match was dominated by Forest against a Brentford side devoid of confidence; the hosts looked sharper, slick in possession and able to find space but the game became flat as neither side created a chance of note until stoppage time when a well-orchestrated free-kick found Vitaly Janelt.
His shot was deflected straight at Matt Turner, who still needed to react quickly, and the rebound eventually trickled wide. There was still time for a handball check against Domínguez but the VAR officials did not decide to act against the Forest midfielder.
Turner’s second half started in more dramatic fashion. He first had a kick charged down but cleared at the second attempt, then took a poor first touch on a back pass, allowing Yoane Wissa to tackle him, resulting in an agonising wait as the ball trickled towards the line, only for Boly to sweep up the goalkeeper’s mess. At least the game was turning into a Premier League match after looking like a friendly before the break.
Brentford’s forwards were causing problems, especially Wissa, who got the better of Niakhaté; the defender tried to get back at him but in an attempt to make amends he foolishly raked his studs down the back of Wissa’s leg, resulting in a second yellow card.
Matters were compounded when Mathias Jensen landed the resulting free-kick on Norgaard’s head on its way into the bottom corner, via the despairing hands of Turner. VAR took a surprisingly long time to look for an offside, only to eventually realise all was fine.
Constant rain made for perfect conditions for headers and Forest soon had one of their own. The newly-introduced Harry Toffolo sent in a perfect cross for an unmarked Domínguez, who looped a header over Mark Flekken. The Dutch goalkeeper has failed to impress since replacing David Raya and further questions will be asked about his positioning and why he pulled his arm away at the last second.
Brentford almost used the 13 minutes of added time to their advantage. Michael Olakigbe cut in from the left and shot wide, only to see Murillo complete his fine debut with a goalline clearance and make sure the result was fair. – Guardian