Willian’s moment of class drives Fulham through Forest
Willian’s exceptional goal was the lone marker from a tight, tense 2-0 Fulham win over Nottingham Forest at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
The Brazilian scored a goal very much in the vein of his very best, crafting space in the right of the 18 before slithering a shot into the very upper 90 across goal. Manor Solomon struck in the 88th minute to salt away the win.
Marco Silva’s Cottagers stay in the mix for European qualification by completing the Premier League double over their fellow promoted side. Fulham now sits 7th with 35 points, four off fifth-place Tottenham.
Forest’s five-match unbeaten Premier League run ends with the loss, which sees the Tricky Trees out-attempted by double digits away from home. They are 14th with 24 points, six points clear of the bottom three.
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Fulham chipping away at ambitious European goal; Forest fighting
Saturday’s match in London was very much a tight, at times chippy one-goal affair that became a multi-goal win for Fulham due to the things that happen late in a 1-0 match.
That’s a good sign for Forest, who has shown it’s ready to scrap with anyone willing to do so. Steve Cooper’s still sorting out his best midfield and the introductions of Jonjo Shelvey and Felipe really took this fight to another level.
Fulham, however, has a lot of class and is playing very much in the image of its fiery, up-tempo manager Marco Silva. Willian looks better than he has in ages -- that goal! -- and Andreas Pereira has found the level Manchester United thought he would when it tried to get him into star mode.
But it’s the back and Bernd Leno who looks the best, very difficult to break down. Tim Ream honestly is a sleeper Best XI center back option if Fulham qualifiers for Europe and Antonee Robinson, Issa Diop, and Kenny Tete also look good.
Yes, it helps that Chris Wood was Forest’s center forward but Emmanuel Dennis didn’t start any fires when he got into the mix and Taiwo Awoniyi’s out hurt. Forest can feel good about the future but Cooper’s again been asked to reorganize his best options and that just isn’t a healthy cycle.
Stars of the Show
Fulham goes to Brighton next Saturday for a 10am ET kickoff, while Forest hosts Man City at the same time.
Willian goal video: Cottagers in front on smashing goal
Manor Solomon goal video: Three points salted away
How to watch Fulham vs Nottingham Forest live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET, SaturdayTV Channel: PeacockOnline: Stream via Peacock Premium
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
Fulham are so tough to play against and USMNT center back Tim Ream had a fine game at Chelsea last time out as he heroically cleared off the line in their 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge. Joao Palhinha is a menace in midfield and Andreas Pereira and Willian give them a real buzz in attack. Basically, Fulham were successful on every single transfer they made last summer and it has set them up for a fine season.
Forest have switched tactics and it is earning them more points. They aren’t as expansive and open as a Steve Cooper team usually is but that’s just fine because they’re winning games and holding firm defensively. January signing Keylor Navas had a superb debut against Leeds in their 1-0 win at the City Ground, as the goalkeeper made several fine stops, while Brennan Johnson continues to deliver in attack.
Fulham team news, injuries, lineup options
Tom Cairney and Harrison Reed are doubts, while Neeskens Kebano remains out. Fulham have a very settled lineup and Silva was able to rest a few key players in the midweek FA Cup fourth round replay win at Sunderland.
Nottingham Forest team news, injuries, lineup options
Morgan Gibbs-White (ankle), Taiwo Awoniyi (groin), Dean Henderson (thigh), Cheikhou Kouyate (thigh), Giulian Biancone (knee), Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh) and Ryan Yates (illness) are all out. New signing Jonjo Shelvey is battling back from a calf injury.