Manchester United’s Antony scored and set up a Diogo Dalot goal to lead their injury-hit side to a 2-0 victory at Nottingham Forest on Sunday as Erik ten Hag’s side climbed to third place in their quest for a berth in next season’s Champions League.
United have 59 points from 30 games, three points in front of fourth-placed Newcastle United and six ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, who have played 31 matches.
Steve Cooper’s struggling Forest side, who are now without a win in 10 consecutive league games, are third from bottom, level on 27 points with 17th-placed Everton.
Antony scored in the 32nd minute at the City Ground, sliding in to poke home a rebound after goalkeeper Keylor Navas’s brilliant save kept out Anthony Martial’s shot.
In the 56th minute, Bruno Fernandes hit a vicious shot on the run that Navas leapt to push out of danger before diving to keep out another shot by the Portugal midfielder four minutes later.
“The result is the most important for me,” said Fernandes. “I want to get points because we want to be in the Champions League next season… and I want to get my goals, but the team comes always first.”
Dalot then netted his first goals League goal to put the game out of reach in the 76th, running onto a pinpoint through ball from Antony.
“It was special. At that moment, the goal was important as well. “I think with 2-0 we were a bit more comfortable in the game. It’s always special to score for this club but I’m more happy with the result.”
United are missing striker Marcus Rashford and defender Raphael Varane for a few weeks, while Lisandro Martinez is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury.
“Inside the dressing room, I think we were calm,” added Dalot. “We knew through the season that we weren’t only 11 players. We’ve shown this in the past, this season, so today was one more game.
Man United pulls into third with 59 points, three more than Newcastle United. Spurs sit fifth with 53 points and Villa has 50 but the duo have played one more game than Man United and Newcastle. Seventh-place Brighton and eighth-place Liverpool are off the points pace but have two matches-in-hand on their third- and fourth-place targets.
Forest is now winless in 10-straight Premier League matches. The Tricky Trees stay 18th with 27 points, level with 17th-place Everton and two points back of Leeds United. Leeds has a match-in-hand.
After working in the sports betting industry for several years, Green became a professional sports writer and handicapper and has covered the game worldwide. He is 77-81-3 (+4.32 units) on his SportsLine soccer picks since the end of last year’s World Cup.
Now, Green has broken down Man United vs. Nottingham Forest from every angle and just revealed his picks and predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see Green’s picks. Here are the betting lines and trends for Nottingham Forest vs. Man United:
Maguire, Lindelof stand tall as Man Utd finally unravels Navas
It wasn’t quite “No Varane, no Lisandro, no problem” and it was against a less-than-dangerous opponent, but Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof backed up manager Erik ten Hag’s faith in their capabilities.
Maguire was fortunate to avoid a handball call early but it was on a cross into a mess of bodies, while Lindelof was essentially error free as the duo combined with 18 recoveries and nine clearances.
Throw-in a very comfortable David De Gea and United enjoyed their challenge before coming out scot-free. This would’ve been a 4-0 or 5-0 cruise on a day without Keylor Navas between the sticks at the other end.
United’s recent injury jinx struck even before the first whistle at the City Ground, with Marcel Sabitzer tweaking his groin at the end of the warmup and making way for Christian Eriksen. De Gea also appeared in danger of succumbing to the trend after seemingly injuring his foot early on, but the Spaniard recovered to remain in goal.
Erik ten Hag was nimble with his selection, making the right call in restoring Eriksen to the starting XI when the in-form Sabitzer pulled up minutes before kickoff. The rejig entailed pushing Fernandes further forward and the Portuguese was a sensation in a freer attacking role, particularly when he worked in tandem with Eriksen.
Ten Hag’s decision to bring his full-backs into central areas whenever possible allowed United to gain a stranglehold on midfield for the most part, but also put Dalot in the unpredictable position of sewing up the points with the Reds’ second goal. Having had his substitutions come under scrutiny after the concession of a two-goal lead against Sevilla on Thursday evening, this was a timely riposte from the Dutchman.
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