If Nottingham Forest could not take points from that first defeat at the City Ground on their return to the Premier League, they could at least be encouraged. Another spirited display of the newly promoted’s proactive frontfoot football showed that a combination of their ambitious spending and Steve Cooper’s shrewd coaching means they have more than a chance of survival.
However, there is no substitute for quality and pedigree at this level and it has shown. A game-winning brace from Harry Kane not only took him past a double century of career goals in the league and tied him with Andrew Cole as the third-highest goalscorer in Premier League history, but also elevated another mediocre performance from Tottenham to their level secure all three points. He might also have scored a hat-trick if Dean Henderson hadn’t impressively saved a second-half penalty.
However, the 2-0 result was somewhat flattering for Spurs, regardless of whether they extended it to three. Antonio Conte’s side are yet to assert themselves but are unbeaten in their first four games for the first time since the 2016/17 season when they finished second to Conte’s title-holders Chelsea. While performances could be improved, signs are positive while Forest can be pleased with their reaction to a slow start.
Cooper had his head in his hands within five minutes of kick-off, and twice within seconds: first, when Lewis O’Brien’s fierce touch in midfield made the ball break friendly for Dejan Kulusevski; then again as Kane’s well-worn shot rolled its way into the bottom left corner of Forest’s goal. Kulusevski had ignored runs from Son Heung-min and Ivan Perisic down his left, instead turning the ball to the right with a cute stealth pass.
Kane is nearing the point in his career where every goal he scores seems to set a record, or at least mark some kind of milestone. He had taken no time to add Forest’s name to his long list of Premier League casualties, meaning he has notched against 31 of the 32 top-flight opponents he has faced, with only Brentford to say they keep him have in check.
And at that point, the ease with which Tottenham handled Forest’s midfield suggested there was more to come. The promoted’s admirable approach left them exposed on the break, and it wasn’t uncommon for a simple through ball to result in four or five lily-white shirts exploding on three in Garibaldi red. A perfectly timed challenge from Joe Worrall prevented Kane from making the most of such an opportunity.
However, Forest began to better handle Tottenham’s threat at the break to the point where they were the ones controlling the pace and pace of the game. It wasn’t the usual dynamic one would expect between a climber and a top four contender – or rather, it was the other way around. Forest had two thirds of the ball after half an hour. Tottenham was by no means the protagonist of this game.
But if Cooper’s side were going to count the ball all the time, they had to create more than a series of half-chances and shots from distance. A long-range effort from O’Brien sent Lloris into danger with an awkward save but that was so close as Forest really worried the Tottenham goal maul before literally giving them a chance to double their lead early in the second half.
For the second time this season at the City Ground, a Forest centre-back conceded a penalty by managing inside the box. This time the culprit was Steve Cook, raising his arm to blow away Ivan Perisic’s cross while jumping with Kane, and perhaps lucky enough to avoid a double penalty of being sent off. But once again Henderson came to his defense and saved a free-kick from a player he knows from England.
Like Declan Rice, Kane went deep but not hard on Henderson’s right. The ball was kicked away with no chance of a rebound. Kane has now missed nine of the 62 penalties he has taken in his career. That’s still a stellar record, but Kane’s pedigree only made the moment all the sweeter for Henderson. The Forest goaltender celebrated by taking off his baseball cap and saluting the stands.
Forest capitalized on the raw energy unleashed by Henderson’s save and quickly came close to equalizing through Neco Williams, who sent a bouncing shot over goal and just wide of the far post. This new intensity only made Spurs’ transitions more dangerous, however, and Henderson had to dig his defense out of a hole again to thwart Son’s cut and shot. Forest, meanwhile, struggled to create chances at the other end that could force the equaliser.
Instead, Tottenham and Kane’s second would eventually arrive with eight minutes remaining. As substitute Richarlison kept the ball in play and revived a lost cause, Kane came to life and broke away from Forest’s defense to leave the far post unmarked. Henderson was stranded and unable to approach the dive on Richarlison’s outside flank.
Richarlison was an annoying presence in those final stages, at one point juggling the ball and getting knocked down for showing such cheek. As much as the City Ground liked being knocked out, it only brought Tottenham closer to a win that felt instantly tough on a lively Forest side but was also almost deserved.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/nottingham-forest-tottenham-result-premier-league-2022-b2154554.html Nottingham Forest vs Tottenham Result: Premier League Score, Goals, Report