Ten minutes after full time at Nottingham, the Trent launched fireworks. Such was the ruckus roaring inside City Ground, it was impossible to hear them.
Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper has said in the past that a match at this great stadium serves as an excuse for the city to “get together”. Here, in dazzling Garibaldi red and white, it was exactly what he meant.
The Cooper’s Forest side attacked the club’s first Premier League home game in 23 years as if it were a cup tie. Forest presented West Ham with a cyclone of energy, aggression, ambition and courage. When we had played 97 minutes in this sweltering, sweltering heat, it was enough to get a win. Single.
Taiwo Awoniyi celebrates after scoring the goal that gave Nottingham Forest their first Premier League victory since 1999
The Nigerian striker, one of Forest’s numerous signings, scored just before half-time
Awoniyi didn’t know much about it when the ball bounced off her knee and into the net.
An emotional Steve Cooper celebrates with fists raised to all corners of the City Ground at the end.
David Moyes and his West Ham players will feel aggrieved at losing. Last weekend’s opening loss to Manchester City was easy, but this was anything but.
West Ham hit the underside of the crossbar twice, had a goal disallowed minutes before Forest scored theirs and then missed a second-half penalty.
In virtually the final act of the game, West Ham defender Kurt Zouma directed a header into the bottom corner only for bright young Forest defender Nico Williams to clear the ball from the line.
So yes, West Ham had plenty to chew on as they traveled home. But denying Forest his dues would be unfair.
Declan Rice had a golden opportunity to equalize but his penalty was saved by Dean Henderson
Declan Rice wears a rueful expression after seeing his penalty repelled by Henderson.
MATCH DATA AND PLAYER RATINGS
NOTTINGHAM FOREST: (3-4-1-2) Henderson 8; Worrall 6.5, Niakhate 7 (77 min 6 cook), McKenna 6.5; Williams 8.5, O’Brien 7, Mangala 7.5 (Cafu 83mins 6), Toffolo 7; Lingard 7; Johnson 7, Awoniyi 7.5 (Surridge 72 min 6).
Goal scorer: 45
Reserved: McKenna, Henderson, Surridge
Manager: Steve Cooper 8
WEST HAM UNITED: (4-2-3-1) Fabianski 8; Coufal 7, Zouma 6, Cresswell 6, Johnson 6; Soucek 6.5, Rice 6; Bowen 6 (Cornet 84mins 6), Benrahma 7, Fornals 7 (Lanzini 68mins 6); Antonio 6 (Scamacca 68 minutes 6):
Manager: David Moyes 7
Referee: Robert Jones 6
This was a team with eight of their 14 summer signings that played like that couldn’t be the case. It seemed that Cooper’s team was born within the city limits (such was his commitment and enthusiasm) rather than as far afield as Belgium, Nigeria and France.
The first 20 minutes were for the local team. New Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi started explosively, worrying Zouma with his pace and touch.
Right next to him, Jesse Lingard and one of last season’s heroes, Brennan Johnson, weaved in and out of tight spaces. On the flanks, full-backs Harry Toffolo, recruited from Huddersfield, and Williams, once from Liverpool, pushed into space with intent.
Clear chances were scarce at this stage. In fact, Forest didn’t get their shot of the season until Johnson fired past Lukasz Fabianksi just before the half hour mark.
Indeed, it was West Ham who thought they had broken through when Declan Rice ushered in Said Benrahma to beat Dean Henderson in the 40th minute.
At first glance, the Forest defense seemed to stop when Benrahma cleared, and replay showed why.
Michail Antonio had brought down a Forest defender while running as a decoy and, with the help of the VAR monitor, the goal was disallowed.
He said Benrahma thought he had given West Ham a first-half lead but the goal was disallowed.
VAR ruled that Michail Antonio fouled Orel Mangala during the build-up.
Declan Rice was one of the West Ham players who complained to referee Rob Jones
That was a decision that could have possibly gone either way. But West Ham didn’t have time to think about that, as by the second minute of first-half stoppage time, they were behind.
It was indeed a disastrous goal, but no one bothered about it.
A neat and intelligent run down the left by Toffolo gave Lingard a chance. When Lingard, who enjoyed a decent game, missed his shot completely, the opportunity seemed to have gone only to West Ham defender Ben Johnson to play his clearance directly at Awoniyi’s foot and back into goal.
It was the kind of weird occurrence that happens maybe once a season to a defensive unit. Maybe not even that often.
But for West Ham, the goal presented them with no alternative but to increase their own intensity as they chased things down in the second half.
Brennan Johnson thought she had doubled Forest’s lead but VAR found she was offside
More wild celebrations at the City Ground were cut short by the intervention of officials
Forest defender Lewis O’Brien and goalkeeper Dean Henderson collide under pressure
West Ham’s Tomas Soucek heads towards goal during an entertaining contest
Moyes’ team didn’t do the worst job. About a minute after the restart, Pablo Fornals hit the bar from 25 yards out and Henderson saved Tomas Soucek’s header in brilliant and athletic fashion.
Forest then had an own goal disallowed (Johnson was clearly offside at half a yard) before Benrahma hit virtually the same chunk of crossbar that Fornals had hit earlier.
This time the shot came from a foul but the result was exactly the same as the ball landed on the wrong side of the line for the attacking team.
Bad luck? Maybe so, but midway through the half, West Ham had a chance to get all of that right only to screw it up.
Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis watches from the stands as his team claim victory.
It was a special occasion for Forest as they were hosting the Premier League for the first time since May 1999.
Fans waved flags and displayed a ‘This is Nottingham’ banner before the game on Sunday
When West Ham broke from deep, Forest appealed for a foul and did not take it. Then captain Joe Worrall should have made a tackle but didn’t come out with the ball.
And, when Benrahma ran in to feed Soucek, the shot seemed destined for goal until it hit the arm of Forest’s Scott McKenna. The referee Robert Jones did not see the infraction, but the VAR cameras did and the official did not take long to make the decision.
Goalkeeper Henderson, on loan from Manchester United, has had a lot to say recently about the way he thinks he was treated by his parent club last year.
If you’re going to do that then you’ve got to back him up on the pitch and on a weekend when David de Gea was making quite a mess for United at Brentford, his frustrated studio from last season sank right here to save and hold the penalty. Rice’s poorly executed.
The fight did not leave West Ham after that. They were animated all afternoon. But Copper’s team was led to the finish line by the home crowd like marathon runners in the last mile. They had waited a while for an afternoon like this and it certainly showed.
RELIVE AS THE ACTION DEVELOPED WITH ADAM SHERGOLD BELOW