Match Review: Nottingham Forest 0-1 Liverpool

Watching LFC at Toronto Supporters Club Pubs
  • Watching LFC at one of the Toronto Supporters Club Pubs, The Slye Fox

Match Review: Nottingham Forest 0-1 Liverpool

Mentality Monsters + Darwin Nunez + Smash & Grab = We are running out of words to describe yet another Liverpool late, late dramatic win this season.

As this away encounter against Nottingham Forest looked destined for a share of the spoils, Liverpool again never gave up and found a way to snatch all the 3 points so crucial at this stage of the Premier League title race.

Nunez’s winning header in the 99th minute once more took everybody in the Reds camp on this familiar roller-coaster of emotions; from despair lows to unfathomable cloud nine highs on the drop of a dime.

Although we have already been on that particular ride many times before, each new repeat somehow still finds a way to leave us speechless.

After Jurgen Klopp announced he would step down at the end of this season, we had anticipated  Liverpool players to run into brick walls for his last few months at Anfield.

Blimey, we never expected that this would be overstretched to such a degree by the Mentality Monsters.

Trying to wrap your head around the hard-to-believe stuff that this team is pulling off, has now probably become an exercise in futility. Just enjoy the ride.

And what a week it has been for the club.

Last weekend it was another smash-and-grab in the final of the Carabao Cup. When penalties looked like the more distinct possibility, captain Virgil Van Dijk confounded all expectations.

In midweek, in a team depleted of so many regular seniors, Klopp's Kids picked up the mantle to ensure qualification to the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup.

And now this is the bread and butter of the Premier League.

Well, tongue in cheek, what else to expect when former Kop cult hero Divock Origi is on the pitch?
Barcelona, Everton, Champions League Final in Madrid… highly emotional, unforgettable moments that Liverpool supporters will forever cherish from Divock.

Although the Belgian is now playing for the opposition, we will equally remember this match as instrumental in Liverpool’s league campaign this season (fingers crossed for the outcome).

Forest went for it

After all the exertions over the past week, the Liverpool players themselves looked below par. Forest were toe to toe with the league leaders, belying the chasm between the 2 teams in the table.

Origi himself set the tone with the first realistic attempt of the match. In the 15th minute, he went on a prowling run before unleashing a shot that flew just wide of Caoimhin Kelleher’s left post.

On the 23rd, he released Anthony Elanga for a one-on-one with the Reds keeper who made another incredible save to deny the Swede.

For their part, Luis Diaz and first-time starter Bobby Clark led the charges for the away side. The Colombian had two shots blocked while the 19-year-old saw his curler from the edge of the box fly just above the crossbar.

If the run of play was more or less balanced in the first half, Liverpool edged into taking the upper hand after the break.

Alexis Mac Allister was instrumental in this renewed Liverpool driving force, again showing how good he is in the Number 8 position once held by a certain Stevie G.

In the first half, he had already provided a delightful over-the-top ball to Cody Gakpo who should have gone for goal himself instead of heading back towards the middle of the box where there was no one waiting.

On the 49th, Mac Allister went on a mazy run to initiate a move from which Andy Robertson, unfortunately, ended up shooting just wide.

Back in September against West Ham at Anfield, the Argentinian provided an incredible visionary assist to a Nunez goal with an over-the-top ball that no one else could have possibly imagined.

The South American pair was at it again on the 73rd but the Uruguayan failed to connect by a whisker.

However, this was only to save the best for last,  high drama after the 8 minutes of added time was over.

Mac Allister lofted a left-footed cross on the second ball from a corner for Nunez to glance into the bottom corner of Matz Sels’ goal.

Complete pandemonium

Usually, ground stewards prevent spectators from invading the pitch. This time, a few of them at the City Ground found themselves with a modified job description… stop Captain Chaos from jumping into the away end as everybody who was madly celebrating, was on the brink of losing it, if not already.

Liverpool did not play pretty this Saturday because of exhaustion from the intense past week and the absence of so many injured players. However, all that counts are the three points, and winning ugly is also part and parcel of being a leading contender for the Premier League title.

Also, special mention to Joe Gomez who in one single game, flawlessly played in three different positions.

Just like in the midweek FA Cup tie, he started as a holding midfielder. He then shifted to left back on the 60th as Wataru Endo came on and Robertson was subbed, before finally moving across to right back on the 84th once Kostas Tsimikas had entered the fray.

We cannot recall if even Steve Nicol had ever done all that in one single game.

Hopefully, the manner of this win will send a clear message that we shall not be moved, and that will inflict some psychological discouragement on Man City and Arsenal. This run-in to May can be said to be boiling down to who will blink first.

On Sunday, Man City showed their experience in close title races. They did not flinch and turned around their local derby to stay within one point of Liverpool. But up next for them is a trip to Anfield which for sure they are not relishing.

Owing to Forest’s long absence from top-flight football, here is one head-scratching stat: Liverpool’s previous win in the league at the City Ground was back in October 1984.

A few weeks later, Wham! topped Britain’s album chart with the iconic Make It Big.

Shall we dare a careless whisper… on its current trend, our Liverpool team might precisely end up making it big.

Mike Chung.