Nottingham Forest defeat Burnley to seal Premier League safety

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Chris Wood’s brace against his former club secured Premier League safety for Nottingham Forest as they comfortably defeated relegated Burnley.

Forest’s goal difference had nearly ensured their safety heading into the final day, but Wood eliminated any lingering doubts by scoring from an Anthony Elanga cross just 76 seconds into the match.

Wood’s second goal, which resulted from a deflected Ryan Yates shot, was initially disallowed but later awarded after a video assistant referee review.

Manager Nuno Espirito Santo, who took over as Forest boss in December, described keeping the club up as the “most difficult” task of his career so far.

Although Burnley controlled possession, they were largely ineffective in the final third, struggling against Forest’s low defensive block.

Forest capitalized on their limited possession, with Elanga and Callum Hudson-Odoi consistently troubling Burnley’s defense with their tricky footwork on the wings.

Josh Cullen managed to pull one back for Burnley in the second half with a deflected strike off Forest defender Murillo, but Burnley couldn’t mount a sustained comeback.

“It was the first time as a coaching staff we joined a football club in the middle of the season. It was a new experience,” Nuno said. “We embraced the challenge.

“But what we didn’t have and what we are getting now was what you normally achieve in the pre-season – the bond. We had to build our relationships through the season while competing, so when you asked me if it was hard, it was because we didn’t have the chance to build the bond.”

Burnley – whose fate was sealed with defeat by Tottenham on the season’s penultimate weekend – return to the Championship having won just two games at home all season.

Forest execute plan to perfection to stay up

Mathematically, Forest’s top-flight safety was at stake, but with Luton three points behind and a significant goal difference gap, it was never a serious concern.

Consequently, the game had a fitting end-of-season atmosphere.

Neither side managed to establish much rhythm, and it was ultimately Wood’s prowess in the box that made the difference.

Wood, who played for Burnley from 2017 to 2022, was a reliable presence in the final third, capitalizing on his team’s creativity during counter-attacks.

Nuno’s side sat back to thwart Burnley’s attempts at a comeback, limiting them to half-chances with Zeki Amdouni and Maxime Esteve both sending efforts over Matz Sels’ goal.

Forest focused on breaking Burnley down in the middle and counterattacking after regaining possession, with Morgan Gibbs-White’s vision orchestrating many of their forward moves.

Burnley struggled to keep up with Forest’s speed and fluidity on the counterattack, and their slow buildup eventually led to their downfall.

Burnley manager Vincent Kompany acknowledged the emotional aspect of the game being the Clarets’ final match before returning to the Championship, as they conceded two early goals.

Although Cullen’s goal provided some late encouragement, it ultimately served as a consolation as Forest prevented Burnley from equalizing.

Kompany said: “I felt like we had every intention to win the game and give it everything we’ve got, and we got punished in two moments and you wonder what type of day it’s going to be.

“The team kept pushing and we gave ourselves a chance to be in the game and maybe get a result.”

Player of the match

C. Wood