Forest boosts EPL survival hopes with 1-1 draw vs Chelsea

NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) — Nottingham Forest gave its Premier League survival hopes a boost with a 1-1 draw against Chelsea, whose troubles on the road continued Sunday.

Forest has beaten Liverpool and Tottenham at the City Ground this season and produced an impressive performance despite falling behind to Raheem Sterling’s opener for Chelsea against the run of play.

The hosts put in a good second-half display which was rewarded with Serge Aurier’s equalizer just after the hour mark.

Forest arguably deserved to win as Morgan Gibbs-White hit the crossbar, but this will give Steve Cooper’s team great encouragement in its bid to beat the drop this season.

Chelsea did at least avoid a fourth straight away defeat but will require huge improvement to close the seven-point gap on the top four.

The match was marred by alleged homophobic chanting from some Forest fans toward away supporters. Chelsea’s official LGBTQ+ supporters group took to Twitter toward the end of the first half to “totally condemn” the chant it said could be heard during a match which was shown live on Sky Sports.

Forest said in a statement shortly after fulltime: “The club are aware of reports concerning chants aimed at Chelsea supporters from a minority of fans this evening and do not condone any type of discriminatory or offensive behaviour. The matter will be investigated.”

Forest, which beat Liverpool in the league in October and Spurs in the English League Cup in November, troubled Chelsea with its pace from the start.

Kepa Arrizabalaga was forced into two saves as Gibbs-White played Brennan Johnson through on goal but his first shot was well saved by the visiting goalkeeper, with the follow-up effort easier to gather.

Forest was on top when it fell behind in the 16th minute.

Christian Pulisic was allowed too much space to get in a cross, which Willy Boly made a mess of trying to clear and it looped over Dean Henderson and off the crossbar. Sterling was waiting eagerly to fire home the rebound for his first Premier League goal since August.

Despite the lead, Graham Potter’s side was not dominating, though the visitors did have the better efforts on goal with Cesar Azpilicueta seeing a deflected effort go just wide, while Pulisic shot straight at Henderson.

Forest started the second half well and had a chance just four minutes in. Johnson raced clear down the right and a square ball to Taiwo Awoniyi looked the best option, but he instead opted to shoot and Kepa was equal to it with a low save.

A deserved leveler came in the 63rd from an unlikely source as Aurier scored his first goal since January 2021. Chelsea failed to clear a corner and the former Tottenham defender controlled Boly’s header with his chest and then lashed home.

Forest could not create any more clear-cut opportunities and had to settle for a point which leaves it in the relegation zone on goal difference immediately behind 17th-place West Ham.

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