Manchester United shrug off injury worries to ease past Nottingham Forest

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Antony and Diogo Dalot struck as injury-hit Manchester United moved up to third in the Premier League and extended relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest’s winless run.

Erik ten Hag’s men headed to the City Ground looking to bolster their top-four hopes before turning their attention to this week’s key Europa League and FA Cup clashes.

United impressed in a victory that was more one-sided and comprehensive than the 2-0 scoreline suggests.

The performance as much as the result will increase pressure on Forest boss Steve Cooper, whose embattled side are now without a win in 10 matches.

As for United, this victory meant they have beaten last season’s Premier League points tally with eight matches to spare.

It was a great response to Thursday’s chaotic and costly 2-2 draw against Sevilla, which saw Lisandro Martinez ruled out for the rest of the season and Raphael Varane the next few weeks.

Tyrell Malacia’s sore knee meant Ten Hag ended up making three defensive changes from that match and then midfielder Marcel Sabitzer – who scored twice on Thursday – pulled up in the warm-up.

Harry Maguire was among those who came in and he looked shaky in the first half, surviving a handball appeal, but United saw off Forest’s threat and took a 32nd-minute lead.

Nottingham Forest v Manchester United – Premier League – City Ground
Antony, left, scored before Diogo Dalot doubled the lead (Nick Potts/PA)

The on-loan Paris St Germain goalkeeper tipped a thumping Bruno Fernandes effort onto the crossbar amid a number of great saves, only for Antony to put Dalot through to settle things.

United had been on top from the outset on the banks of the Trent, with Felipe producing a valuable block with his heel to deny Jadon Sancho after just 46 seconds.

The Forest defender then headed a testing Fernandes cross just over his own goal, but it was not complete one-way traffic.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka produced a block to stop a close-range attempt by Taiwo Awoniyi, whose tangle with Maguire three minutes into the match led to the enraged, bemused defender being booked.

Forest fans got on the United skipper’s back as they looked to exacerbate the potentially brittle confidence of a player who faced a nervous wait in the 19th minute.

Renan Lodi’s corner hit Maguire’s outstretched arm and referee Simon Hooper paused play awaiting an update from the VAR, but no penalty was awarded.

Navas produced a superb one-handed block to keep out a Fernandes strike as United continued to impress from open play, with Forest’s main threat coming from set-pieces.

Scott McKenna hit the post – albeit seemingly with the use of an arm – from a corner, with play swinging from end to end before United’s breakthrough.

Nottingham Forest v Manchester United – Premier League – City Ground
Harry Maguire came in to the United side and had a shaky start (Nick Potts/PA)

Fernandes should have ended the contest in first-half stoppage time, only to steer a header just wide when well placed.

Loud Forest appeals for handball against Dalot – deployed at left-back in the absence of injured Malacia and Luke Shaw – fell on deaf ears when play resumed for the second period.

United were not on the back foot for long though and Antony curled a dangerous left-footed effort just wide of the top corner.

Nottingham Forest v Manchester United – Premier League – City Ground
Forest manager Steve Cooper is now without a win in 10 matches (Nick Potts/PA)

United were in complete control and Martial held his head in his hands after nodding a Casemiro cross wide at the far post.

Brief flickers of life from Forest followed, but they were quickly extinguished before Antony was denied by Navas, but then in the 76th minute he smartly slipped in Dalot to beat the Costa Rica goalkeeper in front of the raucous away end.

Forest were flattened and Fernandes drilled a free-kick narrowly wide as United pushed to extend their advantage without success.

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