Manchester United 3 Nottingham Forest 2
Manchester United did it the hard way against Nottingham Forest, coming from two goals down to earn a precious 3-2 victory.
Erik ten Hag's side went into the game on a 30-match unbeaten run at home in all competitions but conceded twice in the first four minutes. It was the earliest we'd ever trailed by two goals in the Premier League era, as Taiwo Awiyi broke from a United corner to score and then Willy Boly headed a fortunate second to leave the vast majority inside the stadium in stunned disbelief.
However, never write the Reds off and recalled Christian Eriksen reduced the deficit, after 17 minutes, before a second-half rally earned a sweet victory. Casemiro made it 2-2 from close range before Forest captain Joe Worrall was sent off. The winner duly arrived when Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty awarded for a foul on Marcus Rashford.
FIRST HALF - DISASTROUS START
Antony worked Matt Turner in the first minute but Old Trafford was rocked moments later, when a United corner was cleared and Awoniyi was left with a race against Rashford to go clean through on goal. The in-form striker scored for the seventh successive Premier League game, keeping his composure to tuck past Andre Onana, after our keeper opted to backtrack during the break.
A couple of minutes later, it went from bad to worse. Morgan Gibbs-White's free-kick from the right appeared to just hit Boly and it bounced past Onana and into the net, to the delight of the delirious away end. The Reds were stunned and it took time to muster a response, with Fernandes's shot easy for Matt Turner.
Another effort by the skipper extended Turner this time and the pressure continued, as Anthony Martial kept it alive and Rashford did superbly to get into the box and squeeze in a driven cross that was expertly flicked into the far corner of the net by Eriksen, on his return to the starting line-up.
Casemiro forced another stop out of Turner and then really should have scored with a header when a Fernandes corner skidded through to him. The ball travelled at pace but it left those in the Stretford End wondering why we were not back on level terms. Aaron Wan-Bissaka did well to meet a Fernandes pass and his cross squirted out of Turner's grasp but there was nobody on hand to capitalise.
Gradually, Forest weathered the storm to regain some control and they could have extended their lead in first-half stoppage time when the lively Johnson tricked his way into a position to tee up Gibbs-White, but the midfielder's shot struck team-mate Awoniyi, to the Reds' relief.
SECOND HALF - RESILIENT REDS RALLY
Diogo Dalot had to make a sharp interception deep inside his own box as the visitors threatened soon after the resumption but United took over in terms of controlling possession and creating chances. Fernandes fired a long-ranger off target and then produced a moment of magic in the 52nd minute.
The skipper's free-kick was surprisingly played out to Rashford, who intelligently returned it to our no.8. Unselfishly, Bruno nodded it across to an unmarked Casemiro, who rammed home with his second touch to make it 2-2.
Danilo instantly responded with a shot that Onana dealt with but play went straight back down the other end as Antony's trademark curler was brilliantly clawed away by Turner. That superb save kept things all square and that is how it remained when Fernandes's effort rolled the wrong side of the far post from Antony's right-footed cross.
After Lisandro Martinez's dangerous ball across the six-yard box evaded everybody, there was drama in the 67th minute when Worrall was shown a red card for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity, hauling Fernandes down as a Casemiro through ball held up to drop into the Portugal international's path. VAR approved the decision by referee Stuart Attwell but the free-kick was wasted by Fernandes, who tried to pick out Dalot rather than shoot from the edge of the area.
Bruno's next attempt was a decisive one, however, blasting home from the spot after Rashford worked his way past Danilo and was clumsily brought down by the midfielder. The goal was met with a thunderous roar from the Old Trafford faithful but the job was still not done.
Ex-Red Anthony Elanga came on and caused problems, slashing one shot off target and firing in a teasing centre that Onana could not reach, as 11 minutes of stoppage time was signalled. It was still a nerve-jangling finale, as had been the case against Wolves, but a second win of 2023/24 was secured, despite the inauspicious start.
United: Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Varane (Lindelof 46), Martinez, Dalot; Casemiro, Fernandes (c), Eriksen; Antony (McTominay 84), Martial (Sancho 60), Rashford.
Substitutes: Henderson, Fernandez, Maguire, Gore, Garnacho, Pellistri.
Scorers: Eriksen 17, Casemiro 52, Fernandes 76 (pen).
Booked: Wan-Bissaka, Rashford, Onana, Fernandes.
Nottingham Forest: Turner; Aurier, Boly, Worrall, McKenna (Niakhate 56), Aina; Yates, Danilo (Elanga 81); Johnson (Kouyate 70), Gibbs-White; Awoniyi (Wood 81).
Substitutes: Horvath, Freuler, Montiel, Williams, Hwang.
Scorers: Awoniyi 2, Boly 4.
Booked: Aurier, Gibbs-White, Aina, Kouyate.
Sent off: Worrall.