Nottingham Forest restored their three-point gap above the relegation zone after producing a spirited display to draw 2-2 at Chelsea.
Awoniyi had put Forest ahead at the break with a header (13) after an error by returning Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy before the hosts came out firing in the second half and Raheem Sterling scored twice (51, 58) to give his side the lead.
Chelsea’s advantage only lasted four minutes, though, as Awoniyi popped up in the box to score his second header of the game (62) and restore parity after some slack defending by Frank Lampard’s side from a long throw-in.
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- Chelsea made five changes as goalkeeper Edouard Mendy replaced Kepa Arrizabalaga and Lewis Hall came in at left-back for the injured Ben Chilwell.
- N’Golo Kante was missing after he suffered a groin injury in training and could be out for a few weeks.
- Nottingham Forest’s only change saw Brennan Jonshon drop the bench with Joe Worrall making his first start since March in a back five.
Forest held on under a late Chelsea charge to claim what could be a vital point in the relegation battle heading into their final two games of the season against Arsenal and Crystal Palace. Chelsea, meanwhile, remain in no man’s land and seven points from the top half as they long for the season to end.
How Forest held on against hot and cold Chelsea
After seeing Leeds close the gap on them to two points with a draw at Newcastle, Forest set up to counter Chelsea as the hosts produced a limp first-half display despite dominating the possession. There was an early sign of the visitors’ threat from set-pieces as Felipe headed just wide from Renan Lodi’s front-post corner.
Lodi then produced a wonderful delivery for Awoniyi which tempted Mendy off his line but the goalkeeper was beaten to the ball by the Forest striker, who headed into an empty net to give the visitors a perfect start after 13 minutes.
Chelsea’s best chance came when an early diagonal into Sterling nearly caught out Forest skipper Joe Worrall only for the returning defender to recover and produce a goal-saving block in the box to prevent the forward from levelling. Other than that, the Blues were poor and failed to break down Forest’s low block.
After an abject first-half performance saw them booed off by some at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were transformed after the break although still vulnerable at set-pieces. Forest nearly made it 2-0 from a corner against the run of play but Moussa Niakhate could not get a foot on the ball at the back post.
Chelsea then took the lead with two quickfire Sterling goals. The first had a shade of fortune as his shot deflected off Ryan Yates on the floor into the roof of the net after Trevoh Chalobah’s cut-back. Sterling then made Felipe look silly before cutting in on his right to give Chelsea the lead having gone eight games without a goal previously.
Forest looked in danger of caving in as Stamford Bridge got behind a resurgent Chelsea but they were bailed out by a long throw-in which was only half cleared allowing Orel Mangal to lump the ball back into the danger zone where Awoniyi was on hand to head home.
Lodi unleashed a fearsome effort with his left foot that was a whisker from putting Forest back in front but after that, it was all Chelsea in the closing stages. Forest, though, shut up shop and kept Chelsea at bay for the final 20 minutes to claim the point to the delight of the travelling fans who were jubilant at full-time as they serenaded the team.
Sunday 21st May 3:30pm Kick off 4:00pm
Saturday 20th May 5:00pm Kick off 5:30pm
Chelsea now face two quickfire trips to Manchester as they visit City next Sunday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 4pm – before going to Old Trafford to face United four days later. The Blues host Newcastle on the final day of the campaign.
Nottingham Forest‘s final home game of their first season back sees them host title challengers Arsenal next Saturday, live on Sky Sports with kick-off at 5.30pm. Steve Cooper’s side then go to Crystal Palace on the final day on May 28.
Chelsea’s remaining fixtures
May 21: Manchester City (A) – Premier League, kick-off 4pm
May 25: Man Utd (A) – Premier League, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
May 28: Newcastle (H) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm
Nottingham Forest’s remaining fixtures
May 20: Arsenal (H) – Premier League, kick-off 5.30pm
May 28: Crystal Palace (A) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm
Opta stats: Awoniyi on fire as Chelsea struggle at home
- Taiwo Awoniyi is the second ever Nottingham Forest player to score consecutive Premier League braces, after Brian Roy scored three in a row in April 1995.
- Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling has been involved in 16 goals in his last 16 Premier League games against newly promoted sides (12 goals, 4 assists), scoring home and away against Nottingham Forest this season.
- Chelsea are winless in six Premier League home games (D3 L3) for the first time since a run of 12 in April 1995, while the Blues have conceded twice in five of the last six such games.
- Chelsea have conceded the opening goal in 15 of their 35 games in the Premier League this season; the Blues last conceded more opening goals in a single league campaign in 2010-11 (17).