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FootballNottingham Forest 0-2 Manchester City: Haaland scores on return as champions keep...

Nottingham Forest 0-2 Manchester City: Haaland scores on return as champions keep pace with Arsenal

Erling Haaland scored on his return from injury as Manchester City responded to Arsenal’s North London derby win with a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, keeping the Premier League title race in their hands.

Pep Guardiola’s champions knew there was no margin for error after Arsenal survived a Tottenham onslaught for a 3-2 win earlier on Sunday, but they were seriously tested by a stubborn Forest side.

Josko Gvardiol headed Kevin De Bruyne’s corner in to put City ahead just after the half-hour mark, but Forest had plenty of chances to level, Chris Wood alone missing three glaring opportunities.

But after weathering the Forest storm, City introduced Haaland and he produced a composed finish from another De Bruyne assist to make the points safe, as the champions moved back within one point of Arsenal at the summit.

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City still have a game in hand on the Gunners, so four victories will ensure they become the first team in English top-flight history to win four straight titles.

Forest, meanwhile, remain precariously perched in 17th, one point clear of Luton Town and two above Burnley as they prepare to discover the outcome of their appeal against a four-point deduction for breaching Profit and Sustainability Rules.

Forest should have gone ahead within one minute as Ola Aina picked out his opposite wing-back Neco Williams with a hanging cross, but the former Liverpool man scuffed his effort and City were able to clear.

Jeremy Doku then dragged his shot wide at the end of a dangerous run, but Forest continued to create the better chances, Wood heading over the crossbar when unmarked after 28 minutes.

City punished their hosts just four minutes later. With Forest forced to defend a corner with 10 men as they waited to replace the stricken Williams, Gvardiol met De Bruyne’s near-post delivery with a powerful header to give Matz Sels no chance.

Two more glorious chances fell Forest’s way before half-time, but Wood miskicked in front of a gaping goal after being found by Gonzalo Montiel, then Murillo flicked onto the top of the bar when Ederson flapped at a corner.

Ederson was replaced due to injury at half-time, with Guardiola also introducing Mateo Kovacic as he sought more control. However, Forest carved out another big chance within two minutes of the restart, but Wood again fluffed his lines when picked out by Anthony Elanga.

Haaland entered the fray just after the hour mark, having missed City’s last two games with a muscle injury. He was immediately involved in a flowing move, which culminated in Julian Alvarez firing over.

De Bruyne then tested Sels from range before reprising his partnership with Haaland 71 minutes in. At the end of a 29-pass move, the Belgian slipped in his partner-in-crime, who sidestepped Murillo before finishing across goal.

Stefan Ortega had to remain alert to claw Callum Hudson-Odoi’s curling effort away from the top-right corner, but that was as close as Forest came late on despite Nuno Espirito Santo making a plethora of attacking changes.

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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